Work on permanent Toddbrook Reservoir repairs in Whaley Bridge to start this spring
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Planning permission for the project was approved by High Peak Borough Council earlier this month with the work expected to take around two years and cost in the region of £16 million.
The trust, which manages the reservoir, said the work will see a new overflow structure be constructed to the north of the dam. This involves building a side channel weir, ‘tumble bay’, spillway channel and stilling basin which will link into the existing bypass channel flowing into the River Goyt in the town’s Memorial Park.
The concrete panels from the 1970s-built overflow spillway, damaged in summer 2019, will be removed. The dam will then be repaired and grassed over.
Damage to the spillway was discovered on August 1 2019 after days of heavy rain. There were real fears the dam could collapse and the water could cascade down and flood the town of Whaley Bridge as well as the surrounding area. Residents of Whaley Bridge were told to leave their homes and an emergency operation to save the dam was launched involving emergency services, partner agencies and volunteers.
To make way for the new spillway works, the sailing club will be relocated behind the new tumble bay. The current clubhouse will be taken down and replaced by a new sailing club slipway, clubhouse, boat storage and car park. Another building close to the works, the former Victorian reservoir-keeper’s house, Toddbrook Lodge, has been acquired by the trust and initially serve as a site office for the construction works.
Over the next few months, the trust and its contractor Kier will set up a temporary site compound at the northern end of the Memorial Park, by the playground next to the dam. Preparation work will include installing new fencing and hoardings, essential tree felling, creating new access routes to the compound and tumble bay area, diverting drainage and feeder channels, and essential site clearance.
A footpath will be retained across the park, connecting Reservoir Road along the river to the Memorial Park Bridge and will feature a viewing point for the construction work.
New play equipment is being installed as a temporary measure at the top of the dam, next to Whaley Bridge Athletic Football Club. At the end of the project in 2024, a new playground, similar to the existing one, will be rebuilt at the same location in the Memorial Park. The park will also be re-landscaped with replacement trees, wildlife habitats, extra paths and a new footbridge over the bypass channel. The project will achieve a net biodiversity gain of more than 10 per cent.
Daniel Greenhalgh, Canal & River Trust North West director, said: “We are pleased to be moving forwards with the complex permanent repair project. We are very grateful to everyone for their continued patience and support, as we appreciate that the works will inevitably cause some disruption for Whaley Bridge residents, particularly those living nearby.
“Following two public consultations and discussions with local residents, we have adapted our plans and designs to respond to feedback and to cause the least inconvenience. We will do our very best to mitigate noise and disruption as far as we can.
“Our contractor Kier will provide a dedicated traffic liaison officer who will be onsite throughout the works to help with any issues. Construction access will be along Reservoir Road and we very much appreciate the cooperation of those residents in particular as we make preparations for the main works.
“Restoring Toddbrook is vital to ensure the long term viability of the Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals. We look forward to completing this challenging engineering project so we can again rely on its essential water supply and for the beautiful reservoir to be re-instated for the benefit of the local community. The reservoir will be restored to the most stringent 21st century engineering standards - keeping everyone safe is our top priority.”
The main construction phase around the dam is likely to start in the autumn and take around two years to complete, with the aim of re-opening the reservoir in 2024. This will be followed by works to the inlet cascade, at the far end of the reservoir, to increase resilience to high flows from Todd Brook stream. High volume pumps will remain in the reservoir to manage water levels until the end of the restoration project.
Concerns over the plans had been raised by some local residents but councillors who considered the planning application were advised that the safety of the reservoir is assessed separately and is outside the remits of the committee.