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National Trust objects to Cockermouth flood defences work

Plans for Cockermouth’s £4.3 million flood defences have sparked an objection by the National Trust, which claims they could affect visitor numbers at the town’s Wordsworth House.

Wordsworth House photo
Wordsworth House

The trust said it was concerned about the visual impact on William Wordsworth’s childhood home.

It was concerned that a workers’ compound would be visible from the grade one listed house beside the River Derwent.

A planning application for the flood defences has been lodged with Allerdale council, but the trust has submitted a ‘holding objection’ to it.

The trust added that it was worried that the work had been timed with its main visitor season.

It has entered talks with the Environment Agency about minimising the impact if the plan gets the go-ahead but said its objections remained current.

The trust also questioned the necessity of a flood gate on Low Sand Lane. It was concerned about how its design and appearance would impact on nearby Wordsworth House and whether it would obscure the majority of the house.

A trust spokesman said: “An initial meeting has taken place on site between representatives of the Environment Agency and its appointed consultants and of the National Trust to discuss the proposed works and their implementation.

“We have discussed in particular the permanent flood defence measures in the vicinity of Wordsworth House, including how they link in to the grade one listed building.

“As a result there is a better understanding on both sides about the flood works and about the heritage issues that arise.”

It is hoped that some work can take place in the off-season and that the compound would only be in place between October and February.

Keith Roddy, Environment Agency project manager, said: “We are working closely with the National Trust and Allerdale council on our designs for the Cockermouth Flood Risk Management Scheme, to ensure our proposals blend in with the appearance of the local area.

“We are also working hard to plan our construction work to minimise disruption to the local community and avoid having an impact on visitors.”

Sue Cashmore, chairman of Cockermouth Flood Action Group, said: “I hope common sense prevails. We need to get everybody to talk about a compromise and working in partnership. We still want to make this happen because we want this town protected.”

Miss Cashmore added that if the defences were built, they would help to protect Wordsworth’s childhood home, which had its gardens and walls severely damaged in the 2009 floods.

The Government recently agreed to pay £3.3m towards the town’s defences.

Cockermouth residents will pay an extra levy on their council tax over three years to raise £120,000, and Cumbria Community Foundation has contributed £100,000.

The town’s 458 businesses have been asked to donate the equivalent of one per cent of their business rates over three years, and Cumbria County Council and Allerdale council have both agreed to contribute.

The work includes an embankment in the Memorial Gardens, a flood gate and wall at Graves Mill, a flood gate at Waterloo Street, and raising an existing wall at Hatters Croft.

Have your say

Wordsworth House suffered damage in the floods. Their objection risks that happening again. I also agree with rik, if that happened again, the trust should foot the full cost of it. It's in their own interest to persevere with the disruptions they object to for the long term benefit of it.

Posted by ray on 28 February 2012 at 00:49

Whats the problem national trust,did you think you would be entitled to some of the money,the people of cockermouth deserve this after being sacrificed to save Keswick,go and take your cap in hand elsewhere,sore losers or what.

Posted by James O on 27 February 2012 at 08:46

View all 8 comments on this article

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