Council chiefs are to bid for millions in Government funding to help build two “super ponds” to alleviate the risk of flooding on new developments in Weston-super-Mare.
North Somerset Council is to submit a bid to the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Revolving Infrastructure Fund (RIF) for £8.5 million towards the cost of providing the flood storage ponds.
The remaining cash for the scheme – expected to cost around £10 million – will come from agreements with developers and funds from the new community infrastructure levy.
The huge lakes – which will cover 22 hectares – are likely to be on the former Weston Airfield site and the J21 Enterprise Zone and are being created as part of long-term plans for new homes and employment sites at the seaside resort.
The Weston Villages development will consist of Winterstoke Village on Weston Airfield and Parklands on the former RAF Locking site.
Much of the land lies within an area classified as at flood risk and development can only proceed once this risk has been lifted.
The ponds, also known as flood storage areas, will be located on the airfield and some land to the immediate south, and on land to the north of the river Banwell at St Georges.
There will be areas of open water as well as grassy areas which will flood at times of need.
There are plans to create a wetland habitat, waterside footpaths and cycleways.
There will also be picnic and pond dipping areas which could be used by schools, and areas for people to bird watch.
There is also likely to be space put aside and a range of public art could feature in the development.
The Environment Agency says that the strategic flood storage measures need to be put in place before any further development takes place within the J21 Enterprise Area and Weston Villages.
In a report to the authority’s executive it says: “It is clear that the development of the junction 21 Enterprise Area, including the Weston Villages, will require flood storage provision to protect the new development and to ensure the flood risk to existing properties is not increase and if possible, for this to be reduced.
“Without the flood storage in place the proposed development of the Enterprise Area will be severely restricted with the consequential impacts on the economic prosperity of the area.”
A planning application drawn up by council, Environment Agency and Internal Drainage Board has now been submitted.
The funding bid to the LEP is due to be discussed by the authority’s executive this week.