Councillor Beech, the Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy introduced the item, and the Project Director for Bristol Avon Flood Strategy shared a presentation on the strategy. It was advised there was still a significant funding gap, but work was taking place to secure the funds. Work is just starting on the Outline Business Case and it is anticipated that following that, a key decision would be taken in Autumn 2023 to progress to a full business case.
The Director of Economy of Place advised that this was a large regional project
which they were working in partnership with Environment Agency (EA) and neighbouring authorities to unlock key parts of the city for regeneration.
Officers noted there were currently risks of tidal floods so therefore, there were lots of properties at risk and there was a need for an adaptive and integrated strategy. The vision was said to be more than just flood walls and defences, but to include public realm enhancements and active travel routes. The flood defences would be constructed in 2 phases to ensure deliverability.
Phase 1 would be towards the latter end of 2020s. The strategic outline case was approved by Cabinet last year for £79M but there was still a £135M funding gap at present but, work was taking place with the EA and West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to secure the funding. Officers noted that the EA were seeking to gain confidence in the delivery of the strategy so they could approach future planning applications with confidence.
A Member asked about the funding gap and grants in the strategy approach and asked if it was possible to bring that forward to phase 1, also, how much was tied to stage 2. Officers advised that this was something they were exploring but it would involve the EA bringing froward that funding and if they were content, it would need to be agreed with other partners.
Members asked if the funding all needed to be identified by the local authorities and were advised that this was not the case; WECA were also working on this so would be looking to contribute as well as contributions from private sector organisations. Members were assured that all funding options were being explored.
Members asked how much of the house building programme was dependant on this strategy. Officers advised that up to 13,000 homes could be unlocked for potential development, some of those at the Temple Quarter site which was to be discussed later in the meeting.
A Member asked officers about their confidence levels for the strategy and the Executive Director for Growth & Regeneration noted that failure was not an option; They would need to bridge the funding gap to ensure the EA were confident and that they would continue to work until that position is reached, which included passing the 5 tests as set out in the published papers.
Members asked to what extent did the delivery of this unlock the redevelopment of St Philips Marsh. The Director for Economy of Place advised that they were at the ‘outline level’ for St Phillips Marsh currently but both were complimentary to each other and synchronised well at this point; One couldn’t happen without the other, but it needed a flood solution.
A Member asked about drainage and if this would also be integrated as part of this strategy. Officers noted that this sat with the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy but that would also be integrated into the River Avon Flood Strategy.
Members asked if it was known how the flood defences would be built and if low or zero carbon materials would be used. Officers advised that they weren’t able to say at this point but would take Members’ comments into consideration when the time arose. The Director of Economy of Place added that they wanted to embed green methods and create green corridors where possible.