As everyone in Kendal must know by now, the Environment Agency submitted a planning applications for new flood defences in Kendal in November 2018.
All the documents are on South Lakeland District Council’s website, but many of us have found it hard to see them. This website aims to: help the people of Kendal find the most important ones; explain simply what the plans would mean; and why there is no realistic alternative .
The featured drawing above is the Landscape Masterplan for Gooseholme, as proposed in the Environment Agency’s latest plans for Kendal. The river defence wall runs in front of St Georges Church, and although some trees on the riverside , and those along line of the wall would be lost, new trees would be planted all along the river path.
Contrary to much public opinion the defences are not “walls all the way down the river”, but a mixture of grassy embankments (called “bunds”) and stone faced walls set as far back from the river as is practical. In many areas, such as Gooseholme and in front of Abbot Hall, the open nature of the river front and its trees will stay as it is now. In some parts of the river, the banks are high enough and no extra construction is needed. There was an outcry about the potential loss of about 770 trees, and although not all the information initially posted on social media was accurate, it was clear that changes needed to be made.
The Flood Action Groups of Kendal engaged with the “Save the Kendal Trees” group, and together with the Environment Agency looked at the plans for every stretch of the River Kent to see what changes could be made. The plans have been revised so that many fewer trees are at risk. The section above is Jubilee Fields , which will have new woodlands, walks and landscaped areas.
Many of the replacement trees will be over 6m high when they are planted.
The biggest remaining problem is at Aynam Road, where the river side strip is narrow and only low growing trees and shrubs can be planted. This is because the river was widened in the 1972-1978 canalisation and the road needs to be two lanes.
It would be impossible to protect the existing tree roots on this stretch, and the trees would die.
However new low growing trees and shrubs would be planted between the new wall and the river bank, so that the The new wall here also has to go deep under the surface to reduce seepage of water FROM the flood height river into the groundwater .
One way “weep holes” will stop water from the river flooding basements, but allowing groundwater and flows from Castle Hill to drain back into the river once the river level has gone down.
The flood defences come to an end after Helsington Mills, after which the water carried down through Kendal will spread out. No downstream properties will suffer an increase in flooding as a result of the flood defences. The nearest properties have requested some amendments to their drive/ road, to make sure their access is not affected.