Cutting flood risk is key to Garden Town

Matthijs Hou�t, Senior Commercial Attach� at the Dutch embassy in London presents the cheque at the fifth Wisbech 2020 summit. Pictured from left: Peter Simpson, Anglian Water; Japp Flikweert, HaskoningDHV; Matthijs Hou�t; Sam Hoy, leader of Wisbech Town Council; Steve Count, leader of Cambs County Council; John Clark, leader of Fenland Council; Steve Barclay, MP.
Matthijs Hou�t, Senior Commercial Attach� at the Dutch embassy in London presents the cheque at the fifth Wisbech 2020 summit. Pictured from left: Peter Simpson, Anglian Water; Japp Flikweert, HaskoningDHV; Matthijs Hou�t; Sam Hoy, leader of Wisbech Town Council; Steve Count, leader of Cambs County Council; John Clark, leader of Fenland Council; Steve Barclay, MP.

Innovation in tackling the threat of flood is essential if Wisbech Garden Town plan is to become a reality.

The fifth Wisbech 2020 summit heard the town is set to become pilot the debut of a revolutionary flood management scheme which will hopefully free up the land needed for the 12,000 proposed in the garden town scheme.

Speaking, at the summit, held at the Thomas Clarkson Academy, Jaap Flikweert, director of water governance and strategy at Dutch water firm Royal HaskoningDHV, told the 100 plus delegates the Wisbech’s tidal flood risk from the River Nene poses a “challenging opportunity” to introduce innovative solutions.

He said: “The Wisbech Garden Town proposal presents an extremely exciting but also extremely challenging opportunity for the area. Due to the town’s location on the floodplain some exceptional and innovative approaches will need to be employed to ensure the development is safe and sustainable and gets consent. We’re delighted to have the chance to implement our TRICO on such a nationally significant project.”

Wisbech will be the first to benefit from an award-winning flood feasibility project developed by the Dutch firm, which allows better modelling of potential flood risk points which in turns enables solutions to be put in the right places.

On top of the Dutch firm’s expertise Wisbech 2020 has also received a £50,000 boost from the Dutch government towards the cost of the flood feasibility pilot.

Matthijs Houët, Senior Commercial Attaché at the Dutch embassy in London, presented the cheque and said: “I expect you are wondering why the Dutch government is contributing funding in Wisbech.”

He then went on to explain the Dutch government supports water management technology developed in the Netherlands to be used in areas facing similar water challenges. Adding Wisbech and the wider Fens met the necessary criteria perfectly.

All the speakers acknowledge solving the flood risk issue to free up land for development was the key to the Garden Town plan’s success.

Councillor John Clark, leader of Fenland District Council, said: “The smart technology involved in the flood management scheme reflects our ambition to create a forward thinking, resilient new community which will rejuvenate the area, providing essential new homes and a major boost to the economy. The contribution to the pilot from the Dutch government is testament to the interest and support that our garden town project is attracting.”

Mr Flikweert added: “The Dutch Government’s contribution will make an important difference to the pilot project. The magnitude of the flood management challenge is reflected in the close interest that will be paid to this pilot both regionally and nationally as the UK seeks ways to safely create new homes and communities and alleviate the national housing crisis.”

News of the Dutch firm’s involvement in the flood risk work comes just four months after Fenland District Council and partners were awarded £6.5 million from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to progress the Wisbech Garden Town proposal to its next stages of development.

The council developed the plan as part of the Wisbech 2020 Vision to help regenerate the town through growth of housing and economy. But with the proposed development being situated in a flood-prone zone, the authority turned to the Dutch to explore possible flood mitigation solutions.

Now Royal HaskoningDHV’s scheme, called TRICO (Toolset for Rapid Interactive Collaborative Optioneering), will help the council to improve flood resilience and work with Anglian Water and other stakeholders to create a new, safe and sustainable residential area, as part of the Wisbech 2020 Vision initiative.

Councillor John Clark, leader of Fenland District Council, said: “The smart technology involved in the flood management scheme reflects our ambition to create a forward thinking, resilient new community which will rejuvenate the area, providing essential new homes and a major boost to the economy. The contribution to the pilot from the Dutch government is testament to the interest and support that our garden town project is attracting.”

Jaap Flikweert, director of water governance and strategy at Royal HaskoningDHV, said: “The Wisbech Garden Town proposal presents an extremely exciting but also extremely challenging opportunity for the area. Due to the town’s location on the floodplain some exceptional and innovative approaches will need to be employed to ensure the development is safe and sustainable and gets consent. We’re delighted to have the chance to implement our TRICO on such a nationally significant project.”