Plans have been unveiled to protect hundreds of homes in Caversham and north Reading from flooding caused by storms like Ciara and Dennis.

The Environment Agency (EA) has urged the public to back plans for a flood defence scheme which includes walls and temporary barriers and could prevent up to 700 homes from being flooded.

Joe Cuthbertson, flood risk manager for Thames Valley area at the EA, said he wants the scheme to be in place before the next major flood happens.

Caversham homes and businesses were most recently flooded in 2003 and 2014 and the area was seriously affected by floods in 1947.

Flooding in 1947 on George Street

Reading Chronicle:

Mr Cuthbertson said: “This area has a long history of flooding from the River Thames.

“Reading has been fortunate in recent years. We have had some flooding locally but the River Thames hasn’t seen the same of rainfall as elsewhere.

“But the risk is very real. When the next flood happens in Reading and Caversham it will be devastating.

“We would like to see a scheme in place before the next flood happens.”

Flooding in 1947 on Washington Road

Reading Chronicle:

A major flood in the area, hitting 700 homes, has a 0.5 per cent chance of happening every year, according to the EA.

15,000 homes have been flooded across England this year and the EA estimates it has managed to protect around 100,000 homes in recent weeks.

Mr Cuthbertson added: “With storms Ciara and Dennis we have seen that flooding is absolutely devastating and has long term effects.

“Research increasingly shows how long-lasting mental health issues are from flooding.”

The EA is currently planning to build the scheme from Promenade Road to the east of Amersham Road, on the north side of the River Thames, and from Caversham Bridge to Reading Bridge on the south side.

Residents have raised concern about how the scheme could impact on the environment.

Mr Cuthbert said feedback from the public has been critical and the EA “does not want to put something in place without public support” but he is confident the public will support the scheme.

The flood risk manager said the proposal has suffered from “local myths which have occasionally made it quite challenging” and urged caution to those who think there is not a major risk.

Addressing some of the concerns, he said:

  • The vast majority of walls would be 1.2 metres or lower and in most cases about the height of walls that are already there
  • The EA has looked at including some transparent walls to address concerns over the height of flood walls.
  • Walls and embankments will be set back far away from the water as possible.
  • Some trees will be chopped down but more would be planted than removed

As part of the scheme, a bypass channel would need to go through parts of the ‘Sandy Park’ play area but the park would be replaced with “something better”.

The EA has secured £11 million of funding for the project which is set to cost at least £30 million.

Additional funding is needed and would come from local businesses and partners “which stand to benefit from the scheme”.

The project would take around one year to build once planning permission is granted, subject to weather.

The Environment Agency is holding a series of public events to get feedback on the plans from people who live and work in the area:

  • Wednesday Feb 26, Weller Centre, Amersham Road: 1pm to 3pm
  • Saturday Feb 29, Weller Centre, Amersham Road: 12pm to 2.30pm
  • Thursday March 5, Weller Centre, Amersham Road: 1pm to 3.30pm
  • Saturday March 7, Thameside Primary School, Harley Road: 12.30pm to 4pm.
  • Monday March 9, Caversham Baptist Church, South Street: 4pm to 8pm.
  • Friday March 13, Caversham Methodist Church, Gosbrook Road: 4pm to 8pm
  • Friday March 20, Church House, 59 Church Street: 12pm to 4pm