A FORMER Mayor of Worcester labelled the multi-million pound flood alleviation scheme for New Road as ‘pretty ugly’ as county planners voted to approve the project.
Coun Pat Agar, who was Worcester mayor during the last floods in 2014, spoke out at Worcestershire County Council’s planning committee which discussed proposals for 190 metres of one of Worcester’s busiest roads to be raised by 380millimetres to ensure the road could remain open during future floods.
Under the proposals, New Road would be raised from just outside the Premier Inn to 20 metres past the entrance to the county cricket ground.
Drainage to transfer water away from the road to the King’s School Worcester’s playing fields would reduce the frequency and duration of road closures on New Road will also be installed.
Concerns were also raised with about the number of trees which would removed as part of the scheme, despite the initial desire for 14 to be felled reduced to seven.
A number of councillors expressed reservations about the scheme and in calling for it to be deferred for further investigation, Coun Agar expressed her concerns about the plans.
“Worcester is very much a city of trees and spires so this destruction of lime trees is of very serious concern to us,” she said.
“I do wonder whether this is the right scheme in the right place and do wonder whether we should have another flood alleviation scheme.”
Her calls were echoed by Coun John Raine who praised the ‘avenue of trees’ along New Road and expressed reservations about the further removal of trees.
In response, Matt McGuiness from Worcestershire County Council said officers had conducted a detailed investigation into retaining as many trees along New Road as possible.
However, the building of the new drainage would mean a number of the trees would have to be removed, he added.
Coun Paul Denham raised concerns over the road closures needed for the scheme and said the floods of 2007 and 2014 had only seen New Road closed for four and eight days respectively.
“If we are going to have 126 days off closures over the 18 weeks, do we need to 126 further days of flooding to back up the need for the work?.”
County council officer Martin Hunt responded and said: “We believe we can keep two lanes open for 75 per cent of the works.
“What this means is over the 18 weeks of the scheme we will have two lanes open along New Road for 16 weeks.”
Committee chairman Coun Rob Adams reminded members of their duty to vote on the application before them.
“We have had a vigorous debate but for me I think the scheme in its current form is acceptable and I would recommend approval,” he said.
A majority of councillors backed his propsosal with three councillors against the scheme.
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