Plans to develop more than £8million-worth of flood defences in the Lower Don Valley of Sheffield have gained further support.
James Newman, chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, believes it is important for businesses in the economically important area of the city to back the scheme.
Proposals have been developed by Sheffield City Council working closely with the Environment Agency, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and representatives from affected businesses in the city.
In total, the project will deliver nearly 40 separate interventions along the 8km stretch of the River Don.
It will also put in place essential channel clearance and maintenance which will compliment the new defences.
This aims to improve current standards of flood protection, which are estimated as low as a one in 25-year event standard, to the target of a 1 in 100-year event standard plus a 40cm freeboard to allow for some climate change.
To ensure the project goes ahead businesses need to agree to contribute to the costs of the scheme through a Business Improvement District (BID) which would generate £1.4million.
It would see more than 250 affected companies in the Lower Don Valley making a payment calculated on their rateable value over a fixed period of five years.
Small companies with a rateable value less than £12,000 will be excluded from paying towards the project, while more than half of businesses in the BID area would pay less than £2,500 over five years towards the flood defences and river management.
James Newman, chairman of the Sheffield City Region LEP, said:
“The Lower Don Valley is a significantly important part of the Sheffield City Region’s £25billion economy.
“It is home to hundreds of very successful businesses and creates thousands of highly skilled jobs.
“I support the Environment Agency, Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Chamber’s project, which responds to calls from business leaders to protect this important area against flooding in the future.
“By voting to create this Business Improvement District, local business leaders will be able to collectively take control of this problem – resolving the threat of flooding, improving the sustainability of their business community and attracting new investment to the Sheffield City Region.”
A BID has to be approved by a majority vote of businesses balloted on the plans. This will take place in December 2013.
BIDs are common in other large cities, but this would be the first for Sheffield, and the first in the country to deliver a capital scheme such as flood defences.
Adrian Gill, area flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said:
“The Environment Agency is excited to work with Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and other partners to deliver the Sheffield Lower Don Valley scheme.
“The scheme is one of just nine in the country which has been selected to receive additional Environment Agency Growth Funds to reduce flood risk to areas of economic importance.
“The Business Improvement District creates a fantastic opportunity for partners and stakeholders to work closely together taking an active role in reducing flood risk to the area.”
The Sheffield Lower Don Valley area was severely flooded in 2000 and 2007 causing massive disruption and multi-million pound damages to hundreds of businesses, power, transport and telecommunications infrastructure.
For more information about the Sheffield Lower Don Valley flood protection project visit http://www.scci.org.uk/home/projects/sheffield-lower-don-valley-flood-defence-project