A NEW study which forecasts more than 100 years of flood risks for Weymouth town centre amid new developments springing up has been published. 

It has been published by Dorset Council in a bid to provide a way to identify and deliver appropriate measures to control, manage and mitigate flood risks over the lifetime of new developments connected with the town centre's regeneration.

The study assesses the levels of flooding that could occur over the next 114 years, through to 2138, in extreme weather events. It considers sea, river, rainfall and ground water.  It follows persistent wet weather across the county from November last year that left much of the Weymouth area flooded. 

The Environment Agency (EA) carried out the study on behalf of the council and the findings have now been published.  

Level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) will help guide the council’s work on local plan and the town council’s work on its neighbourhood plan.

Flood risk maps were prepared as part of the SFRA for sites showing fluvial flood risks with an allowance for climate change, tidal flood risks with an allowance for climate change, groundwater flood risks, flood history and defences.

The maps also show ‘breach scenarios’ in the event that defences fail with an additional allowance for climate change.

Esplanade sea defence section from the Pavilion to Brunswick Terrace will be replaced sometime between 2065 to 2067 according to the plan, and will have associated promenade works and set back walls that will raise the level to 4.65m.

The SFRA was undertaken by JBA Consulting for Dorset Council, which they published in June 2023.

Findings from the assessment will also need to be considered when making decisions on planning applications. It focuses on the Weymouth Town Centre area defined in the West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland Local Plan (2015). 

Cllr David Walsh, Portfolio Holder for planning, said: “This study provides us with incredibly valuable insight into how Weymouth’s flood risk might change over the next hundred years or so, meaning we can take measures to mitigate against the effects of climate change in and around the town.  

“We’ve all seen stories in the news recently of the devastation that flooding causes to individuals and businesses which are affected, and we want to be able to do what we can to prevent this happening in Weymouth. 

“We will continue to work with the Environment Agency and government on a flood and coastal risk management strategy to manage the forecasted flooding and to design developments with the future in mind. It will offer greater protection for properties and support the regeneration of town centre sites.”

The report considers potential climate change implications, and what needs to be done to make sure residents and businesses can continue to safely work and live within the town for centuries to come. 

It also highlights that the town centre in Weymouth is vulnerable to multiple sources of flooding because of its position at the mouth of the river Wey, its coastal frontage and underlying geology.

The council will also take the requirements to control, manage and mitigate against flood risks into account when working on updates to the Weymouth Town Centre masterplan and any design coding work.

Some forecasts based on the worst-case scenarios indicate that the UK may need to adapt to around a one metre rise of sea level in the future because of climate change and Dorset is not immune to this. 

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We continue to support Dorset Council to develop their spatial plans to make the land use choices to achieve greater flood and coastal resilience.

"The publication of this document is essential in advising the council on growth and infrastructure requirements and helps to set out how any planned growth in the town can support the community being more resilient to tomorrow’s climate.

“Flooding is a natural occurrence and we cannot eliminate the risk of all flooding; our National Flood Risk Strategy calls for the nation to embrace a broad range of resilience actions where there is a risk. We are supportive of the council’s work on delivering a long-term adaptive approach to managing flood and coastal erosion risk that can deliver a more sustainable future for the town.”

Any flood defences will be phased. The scale of the protection will be appropriate for the expected sea levels within their designed life.