£4million scheme to fix broken Arundel river wall announced after MP steps in

The extent of the damage to Johnny Boylan and Belinda Pickering's flood wall, pictured in 2016
The extent of the damage to Johnny Boylan and Belinda Pickering's flood wall, pictured in 2016

A collapsed river wall in Arundel which caused misery to residents is due to be fixed as part of a £4million flood defence scheme.

The wall in River Road, Arundel, collapsed on Friday, January 8, 2016. This decision marks the beginning of the end of a two-year campaign by residents to get it fixed.

Nick Herbert MP

Nick Herbert MP

Johnny Boylan and Belinda Pickering from River Road, whose home was worst affected, told the Gazette in 2017 they might have to raise the money themselves.

Recently, the Environment Agency announced it would be accelerating a scheme to protect 130 properties in Arundel from flooding, with works due to begin in autumn next year and completed in autumn 2020.

According to Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert, the Environment Agency’s decision came after he asked the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to intervene following the failure to repair the collapsed stretch of wall next to the River Arun.

The £4 million scheme will be funded by a Government grant and local contributions of £750,000, including from councils. River Road residents confirmed they will contribute nearly £300,000 of this through insurance payouts and personal contributions, Mr Herbert said. He said: “This has been a long battle but I am delighted to have helped secure this outcome on behalf of local residents. I am very grateful to Michael Gove for his intervention, and to the Environment Agency for revising and bringing forward its flood risk plans so that the River Road repairs will at last be done.

Johnny Boylan looking out from his balcony

Johnny Boylan looking out from his balcony

“I am confident that the necessary funding will be raised from local councils, and Arundel Town Council has already shown a lead. I look forward to confirmation from West Sussex County Council and Arun District Council that they will support this important scheme”.

Kim Parkes, who chairs the River Road Action Group, said: “The relief felt by affected residents now that a resolution to fix the river wall has been announced is overwhelming. An agonising period lasting nearly three years has come to an end and during that time the chaotic events that ensued resulted in severe desperation for all directly affected parties.

“Gratitude to MP Nick Herbert for the role he played in wrestling some very awkward situations towards a positive outcome are due in no small measure. It is obvious he spent much time and diligence in pursuit of a favorable outcome for his constituents. Without his intervention I doubt there would ever have been any resolution forthcoming.”

The Mayor of Arundel, Councillor Lucy Ashworth, said: “On behalf of Arundel Town Council, I would like to express our gratitude for Nick Herbert’s commitment and determination to escalate this issue to Parliament.

“This extraordinary need for support has finally been recognised and will seek to alleviate the repairs of the River Road river wall amongst other flooding contingencies.

“The Council has valued Nick’s ongoing support with the residents affected and the Council have allocated £64,000 to the new Arundel Flood Alleviation Scheme. Our thanks to Nick Herbert and local advisor Derek Waller working together with local residents and link councillors.”

The Environment Agency has also stated that a contractor will be in place by next month, ready to act should any emergency works be required in the event of a serious wall collapse. By this time, they also expect to have updated flood warning and emergency response plans which will be shared with local councils and the community. Additionally, the Agency will be inspecting the river wall on a regular basis to identify any changes or deterioration in condition, with the next such inspection scheduled for February next year.