Work to start ‘as soon as possible’ to make flood-hit Buxton culvert safe

Flooding on Lightwood Road, Buxton
Flooding on Lightwood Road, Buxton

Some residents in an area of Buxton have been urged to evacuate their homes due to flood damage which could cause them to collapse.

They had been advised by the council, in a letter sent days after the damage was caused, that they must pay for repairs because it is private land.

Martin and Donna Goodwin outside their home in Charles Street, Buxton, with their dogs, Bandit and Casey.

Martin and Donna Goodwin outside their home in Charles Street, Buxton, with their dogs, Bandit and Casey.

However, the council has now said that it will fund repairs, but look to recoup the costs at a later date,

READ MORE: Buxton and High Peak hit by flooding after heavy rain - pictures

The residents of 30 homes and two businesses in the Lightwood Road area of Buxton were hit by floods last week after heavy rainfall.

This is the same heavy rainfall which caused the crisis at Toddbrook Reservoir in Whaley Bridge which saw some 1,500 people evacuated.

Ricky Thompson, a resident in Ash Terrace, Buxton.

Ricky Thompson, a resident in Ash Terrace, Buxton.

Residents in the nearby Charles Street and Ash Terrace, in Buxton, have also been affected, and some had been told to evacuate.

Some houses were flooded with more than a foot of water which had to be pumped out by the fire service. The flood water was said to be around 1.4 metres deep at its peak.

One family has been given emergency accommodation in Buxton’s Premier Inn by High Peak Borough Council.

Derbyshire County Council says the flood caused a “serious area of damage to a private section of culvert” which carries the Hogshaw Brook, a tributary of the River Wye, between Charles Street and Ash Terrace.

It says the damage to the culvert is very serious and advised residents in houses alongside the brook to “immediately evacuate their homes”.

The authority said the culvert could “potentially collapse”, saying “this could lead to the adjacent houses collapsing and potentially flooding as the brook would be blocked”.

However, it says that because the culvert is on private land, “it is the responsibility of the land owners to carry out inspections and repairs to ensure the safety of the houses”.

The warning of the potential risk of homes collapsing was contained in a letter, written by Julian Gould, a senior project engineer for the county council, on Friday, August 2, and received by affected residents on Tuesday, August 6.

READ MORE: Buxton family left homeless by flash flooding

The Environment Agency says that two homes and a business are still at risk of collapse due to the heavier than normal water flow.

This was downgraded from an initial seven homes and a business.

The council now also says that it will be paying for the repairs to the damaged culvert so that work can start “as soon as possible”.

Donna Goodwin lives in one of the affected homes on Charles Street with her husband Martin.

She said last week’s flood “destroyed” everything in their cellar.

She said: “They (the county council and Environment Agency) have taken over a week to establish the route of the said culvert and it appears that it passes under the very back corner of our property and partially through our back garden. 

“Although we have never been made aware of this despite owning the property for over 20 years, they appear to be holding us responsible for the repair of damage caused during the flood.

“In my opinion the flood would never have taken place if the river bed was kept clear of debris and rubbish, which despite the disaster last week, if you go to the river in Ash Terrace, it is still full of debris and rubbish.

“The council have not offered any assistance following the flood despite advising us to vacate our property, we have not had any visits other than the environmental to finally determine the exact route and area of damage to the culvert.

“We are not financially well off and are very worried about how this is going to affect our future.”

Donna and her husband chose to stay in their house after being advised to leave their home at 7.30pm on Thursday, August 1, due to the time of day, the fact that they have two dogs, Bandit and Casey, and a cat, Bailey, and claiming to have received no offer of alternative accommodation.

She says that one family chose to leave for one night but returned saying it had been a false alarm.

After receiving the letter on Tuesday, August 6, from the county council, Donna said: “We again took the decision to remain, as we questioned the urgency of the letters due to the delay in posting them out, and we were of the opinion that if our house would fall around our ears it would have already happened almost a week later.

“We are being advised that we need to check with our insurers because they (the county council) are not taking any responsibility for the damage which they are advising is in need of urgent repair, which may result in collapse, which would not only take everything above it, but would also block the culvert, resulting in catastrophic flooding to an unthinkable amount of properties in the surrounding areas.”

Ricky Thompson, who lives on Ash Terrace, said he had not received a letter from the council about the potential collapse of houses neighbouring his own.

He said: “I would like them (the county council) to walk in the people’s shoes who have been affected. See their life’s belongings ruined, mop up the mess, the sewer mud it leaves.

“Then they might think about acting before things like this happen. Prevention, warnings, cleaning, sandbags should be provided.”

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “A culvert that runs under a number of houses and a business on Lightwood Road, Buxton, has been damaged following heavy rainfall on Wednesday, July 31.

“Having assessed the situation in conjunction with Derbyshire County Council, whilst the risk is minimal when the brook is at a normal flow rate, the advice to the occupants of the immediately affected properties is to vacate. This impacts two houses and a business.

“The Environment Agency has mitigation measures in place to deal with the risk of flooding and to prevent further damage. 

“The Environment Agency is in close co-operation with Derbyshire County Council and Derbyshire Police and our engineers are helping and advising on how best to repair the damage to the structure, which is not an Environment Agency-owned asset.”

A spokesperson for the county council said: “Following recent flooding in the area we carried out an urgent inspection of the highway section of the culvert that runs under Lightwood Road and Charles Street in Buxton.

“There was found to be damage in one of the sections that falls on private land, and there was a concern that it could potentially collapse.

“As a precaution we advised residents living along the line of this part of the culvert to evacuate their homes and have been working closely with the Environment Agency, as they are the responsible flood agency.

“We spent a number of hours knocking on doors of homes which were in the affected area, explaining to people our reasons for asking them to evacuate. We were very confident that we had spoken to all the residents concerned, but backed this up with letters as an extra precaution to seven homes and one business.

“As from today (Friday), on Environment Agency advice, all but two properties and one business are able to return, and the immediate risk of more flooding or the safety of the culvert has been scaled down.

“However, there are repairs which do need to be carried out as soon as possible and we are working very closely with the Environment Agency to get this work started as soon as possible.

“Although the area that needs repairs falls on private land, the county council is going to pay for these repairs so the work can start as soon as possible and residents can feel reassured that the culvert is safe. The council will look to recoup the costs at a later date.”

A spokesperson for Derbyshire police, said: “We are aware of the current situation regarding the Hogshaw Brook culvert in Buxton.

“Officers are working with partners – including the Environment Agency, Derbyshire County Council and Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service – and robust plans are in place to ensure any risks posed by the culvert are mitigated against.”