Sue Badman reports

Flooding events within Southwark, most notably in 1984, 2004 and 2007 have shown the risk and impact of flooding to residential communities and public infrastructure.

Now a thousand residents in the Dulwich area have received letters from Southwark Council inviting them to meetings and workshops about proposed flood alleviation works in our area to help prevent a recurrence of this flooding.

Southwark Council and Thames Water have been investigating the causes and actions needed to prevent a recurrence. They have found that surface water flows down into Dulwich/Herne Hill centre from Forest Hill, Upper Sydenham and West Dulwich. Additionally, the old Effra River has been culverted and runs across this area.

While Dulwich isn’t near the sea or the river Thames, the topography of our area makes us vulnerable to surface water flooding. Surface water tends to collect or “pond” at low points leading to waterlogging in our parks and sports fields, and potentially also to flooding houses and premises. This means that our sports fields are often out of action losing vital revenue, teams can’t play and lose their positions in local leagues threatening the viability of the green spaces. The “ponding” effect was very noticeable in Herne Hill shopping centre recently in August when water from a burst main couldn’t disperse quickly enough.
Southwark Council has secured £3.7m funding from the Environment Agency (EA) and Thames Water (TW) to put in measures to stem the flow of surface water across the area.

The pilot scheme will see flood management measures in Belair Park, Southwark Community Sports Grounds, Turney Road and Dulwich Park. The EA and TW hope to adopt and promote this innovative model across the country following successful delivery. These measures will reduce the flood risk to an acceptable 1:75 years standard (for insurance purposes).

The design proposals involve the construction during 2014 of above and below ground storage in Dulwich & Belair Parks & Dulwich Sports Ground to capture overland flow during periods of heavy rainfall. Whilst on the Turney Road site there are plans to introduce kerbside drainage and additional pipe work to route local surface water to the storage facility into Dulwich Sports Ground. The stored water will be discharged into the sewer system after the peak.

A public consultation is now being carried out by Southwark Council to give local residents the chance to have their say on the design proposals and shape the final design. The planning application for the final design will be available for comment in January 2014.

During December as part of a national scheme, EA will be adding details of surface water flood risk to their web site flood maps. More information will be circulated about this by Southwark in due course but look out for information on this initiative.

Further information can be found at