WORK on a £1 million scheme to provide Bradford on Avon with new flood defences could start in spring or summer next year, it was revealed this week.

The Environment Agency says that, providing the business case and central government funding is approved, it hopes to gain planning permission early next year and start work in May or June.

Agency project manager Steve Malpass said: “There are no hard and fast rules and nothing has been decided.

“It could take a couple of years to complete or it could be done all in one go. We have to take into account the tourism, environmental and community interests.”

Alex Kay, chairman of Bradford on Avon Town Council’s planning and environment committee, welcomed the news, saying: “This town needs some protection against flooding. This scheme looks like it could be of huge benefit.

“We hope they can can attract sufficient funding so that we can have some action rather than words.”

The scheme proposed would include three underground pumping stations with submersible pumps and flood gates on three sites.

These would contain underground tanks to capture surface water trapped behind the new flood defences which could later be pumped back into the river.

The three sites proposed are in the Bull Pit, behind the bus stop near the town’s library, and close to the archway from Westbury Gardens to St Margaret’s car park.

Discharge pipe work would be connected to existing drainage systems and flood walls would be tied into the existing walls and the Town Bridge parapet.

Existing walls along the river would be strengthened if required and overhead BT services would be diverted to enable the work to go ahead.

In Church Street, the carriageway and pavement would be raised to create a 100mm high speed table with provision for a drop-in flood barrier to raise defences to 29.5m.

The plans were outlined at a special drop-in session at St Margaret’s Hall organised by the Environment Agency in partnership with Wiltshire Council and Bradford on Avon Town Council.

Around 40 residents attended the two-hour session to discuss the options being considered.

At present, no final decisions have been taken. The scheme was also outlined to the town council’s town management committee meeting on Tuesday.

The next step of the project will look in more detail at design options to establish if a scheme is possible. A public exhibition will be held this summer to share further details of the agency’s proposals.