A new £8.5 million flood storage area to benefit 600 residential and commercial properties, along with key infrastructure, in Luton has been completed.
The Environment Agency worked with South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) and Luton Borough Council on the major flood defence works on Houghton Brook near Luton and Houghton Regis.
The new flood storage area can hold back 140,000m³ of water, equivalent to 56 Olympic sized swimming pools, at times of heavy rain and it will then allow it to drain slowly and under control into the Houghton Brook – cutting the risk of flooding to people and property along the Houghton Brook and River Lea in Luton.
One of the key benefits of the scheme is that it will mean important services and employment will be able to carry on during heavy rainfall events where in previous floods roads near the River Lea were inaccessible.
The scheme will also deliver many environmental and recreational benefits with the planting of over 3,000 new bushes / shrubs and 260 new trees, as well as planting wildflowers on the banks of the river. An otter ramp has also been included at the scheme. We have completed many improvements to the Houghton brook, including restoring important chalk river habitat.
Sam Lumb, Environment Agency Area Director, said:
We and our partners are really pleased that we can announce the completion of the flood storage area on the Houghton Brook, which is a key part of plans to reduce the risk of flooding in the Luton area. Even with Covid and a wet winter, we have been able to complete this project on time and within budget.
This scheme will not eliminate flood risk altogether, but will significantly reduce the risk of flooding in Luton from the River Lea. We still encourage everyone to check the risk of flooding in their area and also to familiarise themselves with the different warning levels, so they know what to do in the event of flooding.
Judith Barker, Director of Programmes and Governance at SEMLEP said:
We are pleased to partner with the Environment Agency and Luton Borough Council in delivering the Houghton Brook Flood Storage Area project by providing £1 million of funding through SEMLEP’s Local Growth Fund.
The successful delivery of the project helps us improve the quality of life for those that live and work within the SEMLEP region and the Oxford to Cambridge Arc. We are proud to support Luton’s economic resilience through the project providing £35 million in economic benefits associated with the reduction in flood risk for over 600 residential and commercial properties, future proofing Arc businesses and communities against the effects of climate change on the River Lea.
Since 2015, £2.6 billion has been invested in more than 700 projects across the country, helping to protect a further 300,000 homes from flooding and coastal erosion in England. There will also be a record breaking investment of £5.2 billion in 2,000 new flood and coastal defences across England between 2021 and 2027.