Labworth Car Park Drainage Problems Are Causing Flooding

Councillors at Labworth car park on Canvey
Councillors at Labworth car park on Canvey
Councillors at Labworth car park on Canvey

The Problem Plaguing a Essex Seaside Area

Once again Canvey Island is in the news for flooding problems. The latest is that of a Canvey Island car park that has been flooding regularly – and it’s not down to the sea or heavy rainfall.

Local councillors have called for urgent work to be carried out at one of Canvey’s car parks in order to stop it from flooding. During the winter months, and especially during periods of heavy rainfall, the car park becomes waterlogged, jeopardising the safety of both drivers and the people brought in to try and fix the problem. So what’s behind the issue, and how can it be resolved?

The car park in question

The Labworth car park, in Eastern Esplanade, Canvey, has been a concern for local councillors for quite some time. They all agree that something needs to be done, and quickly, stating that the terrain becomes horrendous whenever rain falls there. Given that the warm days of summer are a long way away, it seems that the situation won’t get better any time soon.

What’s causing the flooding?

According to the councillors, the flooding isn’t actually caused by water coming in over the sea wall. It’s actually just down to the fact that there is nowhere for the water to drain off to.  Normally, roads, car parks and other such areas are designed so that water can flow away, usually via gutters and drain holes. Fraser Ruthven, spokesperson for London Drainage Facilities, explained to us that most flooding in urban areas is caused by inadequate drainage in the urban landscape, rather than rivers bursting their banks or storm tides flooding coastal areas. This means it is down to town planners to resolve. Flooding on private land is often the responsibility of landowners – a problem that was raised earlier this year when we reported that many Canvey homeowners had allowed their drainage channels to become blocked.

In the car park that is causing so much trouble, there’s no such system in place and so the water has nowhere to go. Tarmac on a flat surface is notorious for the issue in question – something that the local residents are discovering the hard way.

The car park is used all year round

According to local authority figures, the drainage problem is ruling the car park out of action during the winter months. The area sees the highest number of visitors arrive in the summer, when rain isn’t so much of an issue. Nevertheless, plenty of people who live on the island use the car park during the winter, relying on it for shopping and trips to the seafront. When it’s constantly being closed because of flooding, it’s easy to see how they could feel overlooked.

A local report holds new builds to account

A 2010 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment Report, written by Scott Wilson Ltd, states that good water flow and sufficient drainage are essential. This report has to be referred to every time something in the area is built. So in an area as at risk of flooding as Canvey, how could this situation have got as bad as it has?

Well, it’s simply a case of the car park being older than the report itself – it was built many years before. Obviously though, this doesn’t excuse the issue, as the report outlines what needs to be done. Locals have urged the council to take a look at the report and use it for guidance when repairing the car park, but so far, nothing has come of their plight.

There’s a solution in sight

The councillors and residents are still determined to solve the issue once and for all, and their vision doesn’t just stop at the car park. They have identified other areas on the island suffering from the same issue as well, and want to minimise the risk of flooding there too. Tarmacking work and repairs have been carried out over the island, but it’s a case of papering over the cracks. To stop the flooding completely, it’s clear that there needs to be an overhaul of the drainage systems in place – and sooner, rather than later.

Photo from the Echo news website.

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