Crucial talks on flooding threat

PUBLISHED: 12:43 30 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:31 05 July 2010

CRUCIAL talks to remove a major threat to the widespread regeneration of Lowestoft's waterfront areas are set to take place within days, it emerged last night.

CRUCIAL talks to remove a major threat to the widespread regeneration of Lowestoft's waterfront areas are set to take place within days, it emerged last night.

An official with the Environment Agency (EA), which has raised fears over the risk of flooding at the proposed development sites, has revealed all parties are “tantalisingly close” to resolving the problems.

It comes after the EA objected to early plans for the £52.7m Waveney Campus project because developers had not done enough to address the flood risks.

Fears were also raised that failure to meet the EA's requirements could also prevent redevelopment of other waterfront sites proposed by the 1st East Urban Regeneration Company.

However, 1st East has now submitted a more in-depth and wide-ranging flood risk assessment, known as a cumulative statement, of the Lake Lothing area.

Simon Barlow, the EA's development control team leader for Norfolk and Suffolk, said he was working with the developers to resolve the issue and said he expected to enter into talks with them next week.

He added: “They are tantalisingly close to it. It's a case of overcoming the issues and we've just got to cross these final few hurdles.

“They are certainly making positive moves to overcome this and commissioning a cumulative statement is certainly a move in the right direction. What we are trying to do is promote the appropriate level of debate so sound decisions are taken.”

Waveney District Council had applied to its own development control committee for permission to raise the Waveney Campus site, off Riverside Road, out of the reach of flood waters.

Councillors voted to accept the proposals on Wednesday night, subject to an agreement being reached with the EA.

While the EA cannot stop a development, a refusal to respect its recommendations could lead to the application being called in for inquiry by the government.

A spokesman for 1st East said: “We are confident these projects are going to go forward because we are finding solutions to mitigating the flood risk. It will pave the way for all the developments to go ahead.”

The Waveney Campus building would house 1,000 staff from the district and county councils and Cefas science laboratory. Cefas has previously stated it would be forced to move out of Lowestoft if the plans did not go ahead.

Ken Sale, Waveney's portfolio holder for the environment, said: “Wednesday night's meeting was robust and challenging and so it should be given the importance of this project in the wider context of Lowestoft's regeneration.

“The Environment Agency has a difficult job to do and has a responsibility to protect Lowestoft, its residents and businesses from flooding. But we have been working with them to address their concerns and it is our intention to resolve them as quickly as possible.”

A spokesman for Cefas said: “The Waveney Campus is an exciting project and Cefas is fully committed… to ensure that it is built in Lowestoft.”

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