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£1m scheme to alleviate flooding approved
A £1M scheme to ease flooding across West and South Oxford and protect hundreds of homes – including those on the much-affected Abingdon Road – is finally set to go ahead.
Network Rail has reached an agreement with a group of Kennington residents to take ownership of land along Hinksey Stream which will allow the work to take place.
The project had been delayed because Network Rail, which has been tasked with maintaining the new flood walls once they are finished, had not agreed to take ownership of the land.
It is hoped the work will stop homes from flooding in South Hinksey, Osney, Binsey and Abingdon Road, which were all struck by heavy flooding in November and December last year.
Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood had lobbied Network Rail with Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, urging them to stop delaying the work.
She said: “It is a vital flood alleviation project affecting many local residents who face flood risk daily and after the winter they had they deserve a bit of good news.”
The work at Munday’s Bridge will involve a new 900-metre surface water sewer and clearing a drainage pond which will allow flood water to drain into it.
At the moment, water backs up when it reaches the bridge as it flows away from Oxford and causes flooding further upstream in the city.
Peter Rawcliffe, of Oxford Flood Alliance, said: “It is extremely good news and every step forward we are extremely pleased about.
“The canal at Hinksey Drain is currently very narrow compared to the amount of water that needs to get through it.”
Kennington resident John Mastroddi was one of the people who gave up part of his land to allow the work to take place.
He said: “It will make a huge difference, and allow the flood water to get away quicker.
“At the moment the drain is a considerable obstruction to the flow of water and this scheme will be a big help.”
In November, downpours led to flooding across the county with Abingdon Road closed off and sewage backing up into homes.
It was the worst flooding to hit Oxfordshire since 2007 when families in West Oxford were forced to evacuate.
Duke Street resident Mary Timbrell, 75, was evacuated from her home during the 2007 floods and spent an entire year away while the ground floor was repaired.
She said: “It’s wonderful for everyone around here. Some have been flooded three or four times so they will really feel the benefit.”
City councillor Susanna Pressel, who represents Jericho and Osney, said: “It’s likely that this project is absolutely vital in helping the water to flow southwards away from Oxford.”
Network Rail spokesman Russell Spink said: “We are pleased that all parties understood our need to make absolutely sure that all relevant safety protocols are in place, in anticipation of this new piece of infrastructure being transferred into our ownership.”
Thames Water will now be negotiating with residents over when it can access their properties and begin work but, given the urgency, the company hopes to begin in a matter of weeks.
Spokesman Craig Rance said: “We’re pleased to have been given the go-ahead and will be working closely with residents to complete this project.”