Work has started on £2 million worth of flood defences for Keswick - sparking fears of traffic chaos in the town.

Major engineering works designed to increase the flood resilience of Keswick have started and mean that a small section of Penrith Road near the war memorial in Fitz Park is blocked off to traffic.

Motorists are being diverted through narrow back streets such as Greta Street, Blencathra Street and Helvellyn Street which are usually double-parked.

Paul Roberts, who lives in nearby Chestnut Hill said: “It is a Catch 22 situation. Yes, the work has to be done, but it is causing trouble.

“At the same time, there should be more organisation on directing traffic and not sending them down narrow streets.

“Cars are going to get trashed here.

“A coach could not get down and had to turn round on Penrith Road and hit the wall.

“Someone is going to get hurt.”

Cumbria County Council, along with the Environment Agency and Keswick Flood Action Group are investing some £2million in the works which were delayed until the end of the main school holiday season.

The flood resilience project involves the construction of a new flood storage basin at Springs Field and a new pumping station underneath Penrith Road, which will discharge excess surface water in to the River Greta.

Improvements will also be made to the drainage to help the run-off of surface water in the Castlehead Drain between the basin and pumping station.

Vierna McClellan, owner of the Melbreak House B&B on Church Street expects the construction work will hit business over the coming weeks, but added: "If it needs to be done, it has to be done.

"At least the work is going to be completed before Christmas.

"We don't want to be flooded again."

Keswick mayor David Burn said the traffic was a price to pay for the work to be carried out over the next 15 weeks.

“The diversions are well-signed at Chestnut Hill and I suspect in the main the traffic is from locals who know how to get round the town.

“There is no other way of directing traffic. The town council view is that disturbance for a few weeks is better than people’s homes being wrecked.”

A county council spokesman said: “We encourage the travelling public to adhere to the diversion routes and follow the signage in place.

"Diversion routes must legally follow the same classification as the road which is closed, therefore using side streets as ‘rat runs’ will likely cause disruption if being used by unsuitable vehicles e.g. HGV’s, buses etc. 

"The council is making every effort to keep disruption to a minimum, but recognises that it is unavoidable particularly at peak traffic times. We’d like to thank the local community for their patience and understanding as we continue this vital work to ensure Keswick is protected from future flooding events." 

For more information, including the diversion route, go to”