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New report eases Lake Lothing fears

PUBLISHED: 21:44 11 July 2008 | UPDATED: 20:51 05 July 2010

AMBITIOUS regen-eration plans to develop waterfront sites across Lowestoft have received a major boost after a new report looked set to remove flooding fears.

AMBITIOUS regen-eration plans to develop waterfront sites across Lowestoft have received a major boost after a new report looked set to remove flooding fears.

Plans to carry out £½bn of regeneration around Lake Lothing had been in jeopardy as opposition from environ-ment chiefs had threatened to derail a number of projects.

But this week The Journal can reveal that the future looks bright for the developments, which include plans to build a new council and science headquarters at Waveney Campus, homes and facilities at Oswald's Boatyard and Brooke Peninsula.

Leading international design and engineering consultancy Scott Wilson has submitted a report insisting the flood risk to eight development sites around Lake Lothing would be vastly reduced as long as the land is raised in height.

The Environment Agency, which recently opposed plans for the £52.7m Waveney Campus project, gave a clear indication that an agreement was imminent.

Simon Barlow, the EA's development control team leader for Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “We continue to move in the right direction and once we have ironed out the detailed design, Waveney Campus should become viable in flood risk terms.”

The statement follows a series of high-level meetings stretching back several months involving the EA, 1st East, Waveney District Council and Suffolk County Council.

The report into the Lowestoft flood risk incorporated a computerised hydraulic model which predicts flood levels and water flows.

The model has also shown that the proposed land raising of the development sites would also provide increased protection for some existing homes in the event of a serious flood.

Waveney District Council leader Mark Bee said: “The very nature of our local environment means that it has always been important to work positively with the Environment Agency. We are delighted with the news that we are able to build on this relationship and continue to work together to find solutions that will help us regenerate the area.

“This positive and groundbreaking approach will send out a clear message of confidence in future development and investment in the town. In addition, this a strong step forward for the Waveney Campus project.”

National planning policy places strict development restrictions on sites in a flood plain and while the EA cannot stop a development, refusal to accept its recommendations could result in the application being called in for public inquiry by the government.

Philip Watkins, chief executive of 1st East, said: “It was always very clear that flooding issues were going to be a major barrier to development around Lake Lothing. Businesses were finding their applications blocked. Both 1st East and the Environment Agency want to promote safe developments so we needed to work collaboratively to increase our technical knowledge and see if there were design solutions.

He added: “There's no doubt that this study will provide the confidence that private sector developers need to bring forward the proposed residential, commercial and retail developments that are identified in the regeneration plans for the town.”

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