Plan to stop major Preston park from flooding after drains overwhelmed

Century-old drains in one of Preston’s flagship parks are set to be replaced in an attempt to ensure the facility remains accessible during the wettest months of the year - and to stave off the threat of flooding posed to the properties that surround it.

By Paul Faulkner
Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 10:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 10:28 pm

Heavy rain last winter overwhelmed the drainage system in Ashton Park and saw the green space partially covered in flood water.

A Preston City Council cabinet meeting on Wednesday heard that the incident had sparked concern from neighbouring residents who feared that they were “very close to water entering their houses”.

Papers presented to the meeting revealed that a subsequent assessment of the drainage system had found that it had “degraded and is unable to cope with and remove rainfall from the site”.

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Ashton Park has proved that it is prone to flooding (image: Neil Cross)

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Members gave the go-ahead to £25,000 worth of work to replace the main drain running beneath the park and regulate the rate of surface water run-off.

It is hoped that the upgrade will better protect a row of dwellings which border the park along Blackpool Road.

Speaking to the Post, cabinet member for environment Robert Boswell, said that the work was also necessary to make the park a welcoming place during winter.

Householders backing on to Ashton Park along Blackpool Road feared that their homes were going to be inundated after heavy rain last winter

“There is a path in Ashton Park that was used quite extensively during lockdown - and that floods as well.

“If you can't get around the park because part of the circular route is flooded, it will clearly put people off [visiting].

“[The drainage system] is Victorian, so it's a tribute to the skill of our forefathers [that it has lasted so long] - but it is now near kaput and the heavy rain has caused a lot of issues for people living nearby.

“I've not heard any complaints about [actual] flooding, but...the potential is there and it must be quite worrying for the residents [close to] that stretch of Ashton Park. And it’s not just about properties, it could be gardens flooded as well,” Cllr Boswell added.

Heavy rain leaves parts of Ashton Park boggy, as seen after this week's downpours

He said that the remedial work had been deemed urgent and would begin “as quickly as possible”.

According to the cabinet papers, the scheme will see the installation of surface water gullies at regular distances along the footpath which runs behind the houses on Blackpool Road.

Those gullies will connect to a new 300-metre main drain - replacing the one which has now collapsed. Water from it will be discharged into an existing manhole and part of the catchment area will be drained into a new shallow “grass swale” alongside the footpath - a feature designed to slow the movement of water and eventually discharge it via a new connection into a manhole that is already in place.

Ashton Park, which is located off Pedders Lane, achieved coveted Green Flag status in 2011 and has retained the accolade every year since.

Water left standing on the surface of Ashton Park

The Visit Preston website promotes the park as boasting “mainly flat surfaces and well-maintained paths” suitable for wheelchair users.

As well as having two play areas for children, Ashton Park also provides space for informal and competitive sport and has on offer nine football pitches, tennis courts, two bowling greens and an outdoor gym.

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