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Flood fears over campus

PUBLISHED: 14:48 21 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:29 05 July 2010

A multi-million project to build a new council and science headquarters in Lowestoft is facing another hurdle after the Environment Agency objected to early plans because of fears over flooding.

A multi-million project to build a new council and science headquarters in Lowestoft is facing another hurdle after the Environment Agency objected to early plans because of fears over flooding.

Planning applications to carry out preparatory work for the Waveney Campus had to been withdrawn, but project chiefs have insisted the £52.7m building is still on schedule to open in October 2010.

The Environment Agency (EA) has now issued stricter criteria for developments in flood risk areas and the campus partners must provide extra evidence to prove the site is protected to required levels.

It is the latest setback for the project, which has been the subject to a public inquiry into the way compulsory purchase orders were issued and was recently branded as a “glorified shed” by the Suffolk Preservation Society.

Waveney District Council's corporate director Stephen Archer said: “It's back to the drawing board, but a lot of work has been done already. It is certainly not a showstopper.

“I can categorically say it will not affect the occupation date and we are still on for October 2010. It's a complex project and we look forward to the next challenge it throws up.”

One of the withdrawn applications was to raise the level of the development site to reduce the risk of flooding, but Mr Archer explained the EA required proof this would not increase the vulnerability of developments on neighbouring land.

The Waveney Campus will house 1,000 staff from Waveney District Council, Suffolk County Council and the Cefas marine science laboratory at a site next to the banks of Lake Lothing, off Riverside Road.

A spokesman for the EA confirmed stricter criteria was now in place and explained there was more emphasis on the developer to show measures have been taken to reduce the risk of flooding. This could include having to prove other available land in the area would not be more appropriate because it is less vulnerable to flooding.

“We are in discussion with the council about our concerns and what measures could be put in place for us not to object to future applications,” added the spokesman.

Cefas spokesman Anne McClarnon said: “The Campus partners and the EA are working closely together to address issues associated with flood risk mitigation and we are committed to reaching a safe and sensible solution for this development. There are no fundamental differences of principle…”

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