People living off Botley Road in west Oxford are calling for construction work to start on the city's flood channel.

A total of 57 people from Earl Street, Duke Street and Marlborough Court, next to the Bulstake Stream which flooded last month, have asked Oxfordshire County Council to "cut red tape and expedite building".

The £176m Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme, which would see a five km long stream dug through the floodplain in the west of the city, has been planned for a number of years.

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But there have been delays in its completion.

According to residents' group the Oxford Flood Alliance, the scheme has been fully designed and the funding is secure.

But it still needs planning permission from the county council, and approval of a compulsory purchase order for the land needed to build the scheme.

Following the flooding in Oxford last month - exactly 10 years on from similar flooding in 2014 - Simon Collings of Oxford Flood Alliance, said the channel would have protected the city.

Now residents in a joint letter sent to county council leader Liz Leffman are urging the council to make more rapid progress.


Oxford Mail: Pumping water across Botley RoadIt says: "West Oxford and the Abingdon Road areas were severely affected by the floods in early January.

"We’re grateful to the people from the Environment Agency and Oxford Direct Services (ODS) who worked around the clock to redirect water and reduce damage to the best of their abilities.

"Most floors have now dried, pumps are gone, and the electricity is back on, but the streets are still littered with sewage and road surfaces remain in urgent need of repair. 

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"Needless to say, these floods come at a huge emotional and financial cost.

For some of us, these were the first or most serious floods we’ve experienced. Others still remember the trail of destruction left by the water back in 2000, 2003, 2007 and 2014.

"On top of that, the impact on local businesses is substantial at a time many are already struggling. And all of us know: these floods could have been prevented."

The letter adds that residents are "profoundly disappointed" they are still waiting for work to start.

It continues: "Our local and central governments and agencies are somehow unable to commence work on a carefully-designed natural flood channel through empty grassland, in order to provide West Oxford residents with the most basic of comforts: a safe and dry home.

Oxford Mail: A flood barrier near Earl Street in 2014"We all understand the need for due diligence, careful planning application processes, and procedures around compulsory purchase orders, but at the current rate it is likely that some of us will not live to see the completion of this scheme.

"We feel deeply let down."

The letter ends by urging the county council to collaborate closely with central government and the Environment Agency in order to "cut red tape and expedite the building of the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme". 

The latest flood scheme plans are expected to be discussed by the county council's planning committee this spring.

The result of a public inquiry into compulsory purchase orders is expected later this year but no date has been set.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.