Reading and Caversham Flood Alleviation Scheme - information page

Closes 27 Feb 2021

Opened 20 Dec 2018


The Environment Agency is working with partners to find ways to reduce flooding from the River Thames in north Reading and Lower Caversham.

Flooding in this area affects homes, businesses, utilities and a number of busy roads for long periods of time.

We are continuing to design a potential scheme and are seeking your comments and feedback on the proposed design.

What is being proposed?

Our latest design proposes a mixture of flood walls and embankments, as well as temporary flood barriers around Christchurch Meadows. The scheme on the north side of the River Thames goes from Promenade Road to the Berry Brook just north of Nire Road. On the south side it runs from Caversham Bridge to Reading Bridge.

The scheme includes a conveyance channel which flows through a small section of Christchurch Meadows and the south part of Hill’s Meadow car park, re-entering the River Thames close to Caversham weir. If we were to build the flood walls and embankments without including the channel then during a flood, water levels would rise causing increased flooding upstream and downstream. The conveyance channel ensures this water passes through Reading to the natural floodplain downstream.  

The maps below show the area at risk of flooding now without a scheme compared to the area which would be at flood risk if the scheme we are designing were to be built. These maps are also available at the very bottom of the page if you would like to download them as a pdf.

Why do we need a flood alleviation scheme?

North Reading and Lower Caversham have flooded several times in the past, including the major floods of 1947. More recently, in 2012 and 2014, homes and businesses in low lying areas of Caversham flooded. In 2003, many homes were surrounded by floodwater and a number of roads were closed to vehicles. Napier Road, Amersham Road, Paddock Road, Send Road and Piggott’s Lane were closed, some for as long as 5 days.

The Environment Agency maintains rivers and streams, and operates weirs and locks in and around the Reading and Caversham area. This work reduces the flood risk from smaller, more regular floods, but larger scale flooding cannot be reduced by maintenance alone. The best scientific evidence suggests that severe weather events are likely to be more frequent and more intense in the future, increasing the risk of flooding. This is why it is so important for us to look at how to reduce flood risk now and design a scheme that will reduce flooding from a major flood in north Reading and Lower Caversham.

How much will the scheme cost and how will it be funded?

Our response to your feedback

  • In response to concerns about public safety in Christchurch meadows we have changed the proposed flood wall to temporary flood barriers on a small embankment. The flood barriers would only be put in place when a flood was expected.
  • We will ensure access to the river will be maintained.
  • We are considering incorporating glass topped walls into the design to maintain existing river views.

What happens next?

  • Site investigations which began in mid-November will continue into the new-year.
  • We will continue to develop our designs based on feedback from the public drop-ins and ongoing modelling work.  
  • We will carry out further engagement as the scheme progresses.
  • If the scheme is developed we would aim to apply for planning permission later next year and full business case in summer 2020.
  • If the scheme continues and we gain planning permission, full funding and all relevant approvals then it could be possible for the scheme to be completed by summer 2021.

All the information that we shared at our December 2018 drop-in is available for you download in the related section below.

Should you experience any difficulties accessing the documents please email reading&


  • Members of the public


  • Flood management