Essential work to help protect businesses in one of South Shields’ best-known streets from flooding is to begin on Tuesday, October 29.
Northumbrian Water is investing £2.63 million in a six-month project to reduce the risk of flooding to properties in the town’s Ocean Road at times of heavy rainfall. The work is in partnership with South Tyneside Council which is currently working on a regeneration programme for Ocean Road.
Ocean Road, which is renowned for its restaurants and bars close to South Shields seafront, suffered flooding on several occasions during 2012 as well as narrowly avoiding further flooding to businesses during heavy rainfall in August this year.
Now an upgrade to the sewer system will see over 400m of new sewer pipes installed in the area as well as an underground storm water storage tank with capacity for three million litres of rainwater.
The work, which is being carried out by Esh Construction, will create a tank large enough to fill 37,500 baths under nearby North Marine Park. A new sewer at Shortridge Street will connect existing sewers in Dale Street and Ocean Road, and new pipes will link Pier Parade and Ocean Road to the new storage tank. Water from the tank will then flow, under control, into the sewer in Sea Road.
Lynn Preston, Northumbrian Water’s project manager for the scheme, said: “This is a complex piece of engineering in a built-up area with limited options for siting new storm water capacity, so I am pleased that we have found a way forward with the most practical and least disruptive option to reduce flood risk.
“Where possible, we will be using ‘trenchless technology’ to avoid digging up roads, and we are working with the Council to minimise inconvenience for local people. Anyone whose home or business is directly affected by the works will receive detailed information from the contractors in advance.”
Some traffic management measures will be in place during the works. Shortridge Street, adjoining Ocean Road, will be closed for around three weeks from 25 February and there will be parking restrictions on Lawe Road for the duration of the work to allow construction traffic to pass safely and access the temporary site compound in North Marine Park.
While construction of the underground storage tank will mean removal of some trees and shrubs in North Marine Park, a site has been chosen which keeps the loss of trees to a minimum and avoids the park’s most historic and distinctive specimens. Once landscaping work is complete at the end of the project, the tank will not be visible to park users.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said: “Ocean Road faced problems with flooding on six separate occasions last year as well as a near miss in August, so it really is essential that a solution is found for residents and businesses on the street.
“This is one of a series of steps we are taking to provide increased protection against flooding, including protection measures for some of the most at-risk homes, intensive cleaning of over 20,000 gullies and several localised initiatives like temporary sandbag defences, ditch cleanouts and new field drains. In some cases the water flows are so complex that detailed hydraulic modelling has been taking place to avoid protecting one area in a way that makes things worse for another.
“It is never possible to guarantee that an area will be flood-free, but this scheme will make a huge difference to an area that is consistently one of the worst hit in the borough.
“We would prefer not to see the tank located in the park, but of several options to be considered, the selected site was by far the most practical and least damaging to the local area.”
Following completion of the works in summer 2014, the site will be handed back for landscaping by the Council – which has pledged to involve local people in choosing new features to improve the park.
A section of North Marine Park will be closed to allow installation of the storage tank, but most of the park will remain open and pedestrian routes will be clearly signposted. Council works to improve pedestrian areas on Ocean Road will be placed on temporary hold to allow construction of the tank to take place without delay. The work will restart in summer 2014, with completion expected the following year.
Customers who require further advice about the flooding measures or have any special requirements should ring Northumbrian Water on 0845 717 1100 or log on to www.nwl.co.uk.
For more information contact Mike Chipchase at Northumbrian Water on 0191 301 6720 or Ben Landon at South Tyneside Council on 0191 424 7463.