More than 250 businesses affected by plans to develop flood defences in the Lower Don Valley will be able to give their backing to the proposals from tomorrow.
The companies are being asked to vote in favour of the proposals which include delivering nearly 40 separate interventions along the 8km stretch of the River Don between Nursery Street in the city centre and the Blackburn Brook near the M1 motorway.
Ballot papers are being sent out to the affected companies, along with a project prospectus outlining in detail the proposals and benefits of the scheme to the area.
A detailed business plan is available to view on the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce website.
Businesses will have a month, until December 13, to respond to the ballot, with a majority yes vote needed in order for the proposals to go ahead.
Sheffield City Council recently approved a total budget of £8.1million for the flood defences project, subject to funds being secured.
Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has already provided £5.5million and an application is being submitted for a further £1.2million from the Environment Agency.
But the success of the project is reliant on businesses in the Lower Don Valley agreeing to contribute to the cost of the defences through a Business Improvement District (BID) which would generate £1.4million.
Without the private sector contribution, the scheme will not go ahead.
Businesses would make a payment calculated on their rateable value over a fixed period of five years to cover part of the building cost and ensure the river channel is properly maintained and kept clear.
Small companies with a rateable value less than £12,000 will be excluded from paying towards the project, while more than 60 percent of businesses in the BID area would pay less than £2,500 over five years towards the flood defences and river management.
The aim is to improve current standards of flood protection, which are estimated as low as a 1 in 25-year event standard, to the target of a 1 in 100-year event standard plus a 40cm freeboard to allow for future climate change.
Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said:
“This is an important project and an important decision for business to make.
“I understand how hard it is to run a business, but I can only recommend people vote yes to the flood defences.
“Under the scheme 33 percent of businesses will pay up to £200 per year for five years and more than 60 percent will pay £500 or less.
“Public monies will cover 83 percent of the total cost of the project. It is a one-off opportunity to grab such a large proportion of the available government money to see the project go-ahead.
“We believe this is a good deal for businesses and offers an excellent return on investment.
“The Lower Don Valley is a critical economic area of the city and the damage from the floods was catastrophic and took several years for businesses to recover from.
“I can assure businesses that the Local Authority, the Environment Agency and the Chamber have invested significant time and resource to get to this point.
“I absolutely believe we have to take a collective approach to this to get the protection we need.”
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.
A range of meetings and forums are being arranged to allow affected businesses to ask any questions they may have and ensure they fully understand the BID proposal that is being presented to them in the prospectus and business plan.
Business owners can attend the drop-in sessions to speak to developers about the plans face-to-face on the below dates:
- Friday 22 November – 12.30pm to 4pm – Wicker/Millsands area, venue to be confirmed.
- Thursday 28 November –12pm to 6pm at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, Albion House, Savile Street, Sheffield
- Friday 6 December – 10am to12.45pm and 1.15pm to 4pm at Riverside Court on Don Road and Jessop Riverside off Brightside Lane, Sheffield.
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