Work to upgrade major Chesham culvert delayed

The construction of a new culvert in Pednormead End, Chesham will now be completed in summer 2022, Buckinghamshire Council has reluctantly confirmed.

The work to upgrade and replace the culvert (the pipe containing the River Chess) under Church Street, which started last year, is crucial to reducing the flood risk for those living in the area. However, the scheme has been hampered by unusually high groundwater levels in recent months and difficulties in obtaining final agreement with the Environment Agency.

With last winter’s significant rainfall, groundwater levels were already higher than expected at the start of spring. The situation was made worse with the extensive rainfall in May and has meant any construction would be increasingly difficult as attempts to get excavations dry enough to work in would be challenging and potentially dangerous. It's for this reason that the work to divert a high voltage cable this week, as part of the scheme, has also been postponed.

The second issue lies with obtaining the necessary permit from the Environment Agency for the works. The permit application has resulted in the need to update the initial flood impact estimation work to improve its accuracy. This could lead to potential changes in the scheme's design which need to be addressed before the works can be finalised. As a result of both issues, the council has no choice but to postpone work until summer 2022.

Commenting on the scheme, Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change and the Environment, Peter Strachan said that he was disappointed to hear of the need for delay but hoped residents would recognise the council’s commitment to the area. “This project is crucial for reducing flood risk in Chesham and we will get this work done,” he said.

Peter added, “I understand residents may feel frustrated by these further delays, but we remain committed to completing the project next year after everything has been resolved.”

In addition to the culvert upgrade, the works to install flood resilience measures on individual homes in the area is continuing, with 11 properties now complete. These measures include flood doors, barriers, one-way return valves and waterproofing.

The council, Transport for Buckinghamshire and all the contractors involved will continue working with local residents as the scheme continues. For any issues or questions about the works, please contact us on [email protected].

Current groundwater levels at Pednormead End