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Jacobs speaks at our South-West event on green infrastructure

Above: aerial view of Sidmouth's new flood fence project which doubles as a public amphitheatre in East Devon (Courtesy Jacobs)

We are delighted that Paul Hargreaves, Director, from engineering firm Jacobs will be speaking at our South-West discussion forum this month. He will be describing his work around flood defences in Sidmouth, Devon.

For many years Sidmouth, a town based on the Southwest coast of England, has faced a high risk of flooding. If a rare, major storm were to take place many local residential and commercial properties would be susceptible to flooding.

Jacobs was brought in by Devon County Council to develop a flood defence scheme for the town that would overcome this and navigate the town’s drainage challenges including a dense town centre, narrow streets and old buildings.

But the team went further and were inspired to turn the flood defences into an amphitheatre, providing a public space for local communities to visit. They also reinstated a wildflower meadow and planted 11 new trees. Now over 300 people at any one time can enjoy local events in a unique natural setting, so long as the weather stays dry!

Jacobs details the facts:

  • 64 properties will be protected from flooding in the event of a rare, major storm

  • 24720 cubic feet (700 cubic meters) of storage provided by the amphitheater and sub-surface tank

  • 3000 recycled plastic geocellular crates used to store water below the ground

  • 11 new trees planted

  • 3724 US gallons per minute (235 litres per second) of reduction to flow reaching the South West Water sewer network

Paul says greening important infrastructure can have enormous benefits for the community and for peoples' mental health and there is potential to develop further infrastructure in the UK in this way to help with climate change.

“No one imagined that a scheme requiring such a significant volume of water to be intercepted and stored before it gets to the town could in effect be hidden in plain sight, giving the community a real asset that will be a draw for people.”

Cllr Stuart Hughes

Sidmouth Town Council


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