Flood defences for Malmesbury move a step closer

By Anita Jaynes on 25 July, 2023

Plans to protect the historic market town of Malmesbury from a repeat of the floods of 2012 and 2013 have moved a step closer.

The community-led Flood Working Group, supported by Malmesbury Town Council, has secured £50k funding from the Environment Agency. 

The funding, approved by Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, will pay for additional modelling for the flood defence scheme. 

If the modelling proves a case for going ahead, a further £550k has been pledged to finance the work, which will be carried out in 2025.

In 2012, the town suffered its worst flooding for 70 years when the River Avon burst its banks. Yet, thanks to climate change, flooding happened again in 2013 and also in 2014.

The Environment Agency concluded there was no viable scheme to combat flooding, but the community took up the cause, and – working with Malmesbury Town Council, the Environment Agency, and Wiltshire Council – pushed ahead with investigations into flood defences.

At a recent public meeting in Malmesbury Town Hall, to look at the latest developments in the Community-led Flood Alleviation Scheme, key elements of the plans were examined. Present at the meeting were around 40 local residents, local flood expert Edward Evans, Wiltshire Council Principal Drainage Engineer Danny Everett, and Malmesbury Town Councillor Steve D’Arcy.

The proposed work would include a temporary barrier installed across the Memorial Gates and construction work to increase the height of the wall bounding the northern bank of the stream running through Cuckingstool Mead. Further work to improve the river flow downstream from St John’s bridge would also be undertaken.

Cllr D’Arcy is among those driving the campaign for flood defences for the St John’s, Lower High Street and Baskerville areas of the town.

“There have been many flooding events in Malmesbury in recent years, and the expectation is that climate change is likely to increase the frequency and severity of future flooding,” he said. “A number of steps have already been taken to improve the flow of water through town since that flood, which has reduced, but not eliminated the risk to residents.

“At this stage of development, the exact nature of the construction work likely to affect local residents is uncertain, and so the purpose of the meeting was simply to raise awareness of the scheme and to provide reassurance that full and detailed consultations will be held as the scheme progresses.”

More information about the scheme, and its timeline for implementation, is available via the Malmesbury Town Council website at www.malmesbury.gov.uk

Pictured above:  Cllr Steve Darcy.