Reducing flooding in Reading and Caversham information page

Closes 28 Feb 2024

Opened 26 Feb 2020

Overview

How to reduce flooding in north Reading and Lower Caversham.

On this webpage you can view detailed information including, plans, maps and photos from our February and March 2020 public engagement.

For more general information about flood risk in Reading and Caversham and what we are proposing please visit our main webpage. 

Do you know if you are at flood risk? Follow this link. www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk

Introduction

There are over 700 properties at risk of flooding in north Reading and Caversham. It is the largest developed area at risk of flooding in the Thames Valley with no formal defences and no planned flood scheme.

Our vision is to reduce flood risk to hundreds of properties and keep Reading moving. We aim to increase the value of the area for the local community and biodiversity.  We want to work with communities and partners to reduce this risk now before major flooding happens. 

To reduce the impacts of flooding for the largest number of people we are designing a scheme that includes a combination of earth embankments, flood walls and removable temporary flood barriers. We would also need a channel to bypass Reading Bridge. The design is in the early stages and does not yet have full funding or permissions in place. To go ahead we will need the support of the community and partners.

On this webpage you can view our latest information from our February and March 2020 public engagement.

This includes:

  • What options we have considered
  • What design are we proposing
  • Flood maps showing different sized flood with and without a flood scheme
  • Photos of what a scheme could look like if it were to be built
  • Landscape plans which show where flood walls, embankments and a channel could go.

You can find out more general information about flood risk in Reading and Caversham and what we are proposing on our Gov.uk website  

February and March 2020 public engagement

During 2019 we held a series of pop-ups and drop-ins to share information about our proposals with you. We listened to your feedback and where possible made changes to proposals. We have shared this new information at recent community group meetings and public drop-ins.

We are still in the early stages of the project. However, in response to feedback we have created landscape plans and photos showing what the area could like if we build a scheme.  

You can see a summary of the information we shared at the drop-ins here.

More Information

We have looked into a number of different ways to reduce flooding in Reading and Caversham. On their own they could reduce flooding from smaller floods. For major floods they need to be used in combination with permanent measures such as flood walls and embankments.

Natural flood management

These are processes that enhance the natural features of a river, to reduce flooding impact on a community. Methods include slowing flow of water, improving soil quality so more water is absorbed and creating more areas for water to be stored. In this area they would not help reduce flooding from major floods as the area of land required would need to be equivalent to 30 million cubic metres of storage (12,000 Olympic swimming pools).

Flood storage area

On its own there is not enough room to hold the amount of water needed to reduce the impacts of a major flood. The volume of storage required would be 100 million cubic metres of water. This would require holding an additional 2 metres of water across an area of land over 400 times the size of Christchurch Meadow.

Dredging

We already maintain rivers and streams, and operate 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. Dredging the River Thames would not significantly reduce flood risk in this area. In many cases, dredging isn’t the best long-term solution because rivers can quickly silt-up again. It can even increase flood risk by making rivers flow faster. Dredging can be costly, disruptive and environmentally damaging and would require frequent re-dredging as the natural tendency of all rivers after dredging is to deposit silt and return to their more natural dimensions. 

More Information

The measures that would reduce the impacts of flooding for the largest number of people includes a combination of earth embankments, flood walls, and removable temporary flood barriers. These could be built from Promenade Road to just past Berry Brook on the north bank of the River Thames and from Caversham Bridge to Reading Bridge on the south side of the river. We would also build a small channel to bypass Reading Bridge.

Flood walls and embankments

The scheme we are considering involves a combination of permanent flood walls and embankments. Any walls that we would build would be set back from the river and are likely to be a similar height to existing fences and walls. Where this is not possible we will look at how we can soften the appearance of walls. We will discuss these options with local residents. Flood embankments are raised earth filled structures. We can change the slope and planting eg grass to help make it blend in with the existing area.

Temporary flood barriers

There are different types of temporary flood barriers. Some of them can be placed straight onto the ground and others need to be attached to permanent fixing. All types of temporary flood barriers would only be put up before a flood is forecast. We could use a combination of these in different locations. It would not be possible to use temporary flood barriers for the whole of the scheme area due due to the length of barriers needed and the number of people required to put them up. In some areas it would not be possible to gain access to put barriers in place.

Channel

We would build a small channel to bypass Reading Bridge through a section of Christchurch Meadows and the south part of Hill’s Meadow car park, re-entering the River Thames close to Caversham Weir.

During a major flood without the scheme in place, water would flow through the houses north and east of Christchurch Meadows. With the scheme in place, this water is diverted back to the Thames. The channel helps this water bypass Reading Bridge without causing an increase in levels elsewhere. We are now looking at how the floodplain would be affected during a range of different sizes of flood.

Area at risk of flooding

A large area is at risk of flooding now from small, medium and larger scale floods.

More Information

This map shows the areas that are at flood risk now. The different colours show different sized floods with the blue showing the area at high risk of flooding, pink the area at medium risk of flooding and brown the area at low risk of flooding.  To download a higher quality version please click here.
The map shows a large area at risk of flooding to the north and the south of the River Thames through Reading. The flood plain extends as far as Southview Avenue to the north and the Caversham Road area in the south.

More Information

This map shows the areas that would be at flood risk if we were to build the proposed flood scheme. The different colours show different sized floods with the blue showing the area at high risk of flooding, pink the area at medium risk of flooding and brown the area at low risk of flooding.  To download a higher quality version please click here.
 
The map shows the size of the flood plain after the scheme is in place. This is much smaller compared to the previous map. A black line represents the new flood extent which follows the Christchurch meadow boundary, the north bank of the River Thames past Deans farm and up Nire Rd. It also shows the flood plain extent which now follows the south bank of the River Thames.

More Information

This map shows the area at risk of flooding from a low risk flood. The different colours show different depths of flooding.  To download a higher quality version please click here.
 
The map shows blue, green, yellow, amber and red shaded areas.  These represent the different depths that the flood water is likely to reach in a major flood. There are red hotspots around Christchurch Meadow and Queens Road where the flood depths are likely to be greatest.

Before and after photos

The following photos compare the landscape now to what it could look like with the scheme in place. These are to help visualise what it could look like. Details of wall heights, design and planting (including changes in trees and hedgerows) are still to be finalised.

More Information

Caversham Weir

Present day

Present day photo shows the river taken from the path way across the weir with Reading Bridge to the left and the trees surrounding Hills Meadow carpark in the background

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows the path way across the weir with Reading Bridge to the left and the trees surrounding Hills Meadow carpark in the background. There is a new channel and bridge over the river Thames to the right of Reading Bridge. Some trees have been removed from the river bank.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Christchurch Ditch

Present day

Present day photo shows the Christchuch Ditch to the rear of properties adjacent to Christchurch meadows. It shows the fence line at the rear of the properties to the right and the river in the distance on the left of the image.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows the Christchuch Ditch to the rear of properties adjacent to Christchurch meadows. There is a wall immediately in front of the fence property fence line. The top of the wall is just below the top of the fence. The image shows hedges re-planted in the same location as current hedges.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Deans Farm

Present day

Present day photo shows the side wall of a house next to a hedge and a large open green space with trees and buildings in the distance.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows the side wall of a house next to a hedge and a large open green space. There is a raised embankment through the green space covered in grass with children playing.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Heron Island

Present day

Present day photo shows the entrance to Heron Island with cars parked on either side of the roads. There are trees in the centre of the photograph.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows the entrance to Heron Island with cars parked on either side of the road. There is a raised speed bump across the entrance to heron Island. A blue line indicates where a temporary barrier would be erected on top of the speed bump in the event of a flood. Some trees are removed from the centre of the image where the wall has been rebuilt.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Hills Meadow

Present day

Present day photo shows the path through Hills Meadow with grass land and trees on either side. The path inclines upwards.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows the path through Hills Meadow with grass land and trees on either side. In the distance there is a low flood wall at the top of an incline with a gap where the path runs through it.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Mill Green centre

Present day

If the scheme were to go ahead

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Mill Green east

Present day

Present day photo shows an industrial unit/boatyard to the left with a gate and fences with shrubbery over them. There is a pathway in the centre and a fence line to the right.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows a new flood wall around the industrial property in the left of the image and to the left side of the foot path. Some trees have been removed.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Mill Green west

Present day

Present day photo shows a footpath with the river to the right, some trees between the path and the river and a flint wall with brick top to the left of the path. Beyond the wall there is a green grassed area with some mature trees.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows the a resurfaced path with the river and trees to the right. The wall has been replaced with a similar style flood wall with flint, grey and red brick and grey topping.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Paddling pool

Present day

Present day photo shows a wide photo graph of the play park in Christchurch Meadow with a row of poplar trees in the background and the river in the distance to the right.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows a wide photo graph of the play park in Christchurch Meadow with a row of poplar trees in the background and the river in the distance to the right. Some poplar trees have been removed in the distance.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Play area and new channel

Present day

Present day photo shows the eastern edge of the sandy play park in Christchurch meadow with the footpath going towards Reading Bridge. There are tennis courts on the left side of the picture and offices shown across the river on the right side. Trees are shown in the distance.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows a new river channel in the foreground with a grass bank and new bridge in the background. Some Poplar trees are removed. Office buildings are shown across the river on the right side of the picture and tennis courts on the left.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Playing fields

Present day

Present day photo shows a large area of grass with trees and a footpath on the left side and trees and buildings in the distance.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows a large area of grass with trees on the left side and trees and buildings in the distance. A replacement path is shown on the left side. Some boundary fences along the right side of the image have been replaced with a flood wall of a similar height.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Promenade Road

Present day

Present day photo shows Promenade Road with railings, trees and grass area to the left and residential flats on the right. Grass area of Christchurch Meadows can be seen in the distance.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows Promenade Road with railings turning into a new flood wall along the left with trees and grass area behind. Residential flats on the right and the grass area of Christchurch Meadows can be seen in the distance.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Reading Bridge

Present day

Present day photo shows the River Thames with offices and residential flats on the left of the picture (South Bank) and trees and grass of Christchurch Meadow to the right.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows the River Thames with offices and residential flats on the left of the picture (South Bank) and trees and grass of Christchurch Meadow to the right. The new channel can be seen diverted off the River Thames on the north bank.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Regents Riverside

Present day

Present day photo shows residential flats along the south bank of the Thames with the Thames Path in the centre and the river on the right of the picture.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows residential flats along the south bank of the Thames with the Thames Path in the centre and the river on the right of the picture. There is a new flood wall on the side of the Thames Path in front of the residential flats. There is railing on top of the flood wall.

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

Thames Avenue

Present day

Present day photo shows a row of Victorian Terrace houses on the left of the image with cars parked in front. The Thames Path extends in to the distance and the River Thames is on the right of the image with a large tree on the bank.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows row of Victorian Terrace houses on the left of the image with cars parked in front. A new flood wall is shown in front of the properties. The Thames Path extends in to the distance and the River Thames is on the right of the image with a large tree on the bank

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised.

More Information

War Memorial Boat Club

Present day

Present day photo shows a path through Christchurch Meadow with the old University boat house right of centre. There is grass in the foreground and tress in the background.

If the scheme were to go ahead

If the scheme were to go ahead photo shows a path through Christchurch Meadow with the old University boat house right of centre. There is grass in the foreground and tress in the background. Also in the background you can see a small stretch of new flood wall at the point where Promenade Road meets Christchurch Meadow

The scheme is still in the early stages of development and it does not have the necessary permissions or funding. Final details of wall heights, design and planting, including changes in trees and hedgerows, are still to be finalised. 

Landscape plans

The landscape plans show approximate location for flood walls, embankments, temporary flood barriers and a channel to bypass Reading Bridge. In some places such as Heron Island and Amersham Road Park there are a number of minor differences to the alignments of walls and embankments we are considering. 

We have looked at how we can amend our plans to reduce the number of trees affected. Any trees lost would be replaced and we will ensure that the local community is involved in choosing the location and species of replacements trees. The plans do not yet identify smaller vegetation such as hedgerows.

More Information

Click here to view a higher qulity image of the overview map. This shows all the landscape plans across the scheme area. On it you can see outlines for each of the more detailed plans.

This plan shows the proposals to reduce flood risk for a large number of people in North Reading and Lower Caversham. The overview map shows the updated design for each area along the length of the study area. Each map can be seen in more detail below.

More Information

Click here to view a higher quality image of the landscape plan for Christchurch Meadows. In this area flood walls are proposed close to the fenceline of gardens backing onto Christchurch Meadows. Temporary flood barriers are proposed along the edge of Christchurch Playing Fields, these would only be in place when a flood was forecast. Flood wall would then run on the east of the playing fields along the back of properties on George Street.

This plan shows the updated design between Promenade Road and Reading Bridge on the north bank of the Thames.

More Information

Click here to view  a higher quality image of the landscape plan for the Thames Path. The proposed flood wall to the South of the River Thames would either replace existing walls or in some places, such as by the back of the Thames Water building we may be able to use the existing walls. If the project goes ahead we will need to do further assessments to confirm this. We are considering 2 different options near Thames Avenue, either flood wall or temporary flood barrier.  

This plan shows the updated design along the south bank of the River Thames.

 

More Information

Click here to view a higher quality image of the landscape plan for Reading Bridge Bypass. In combination with flood walls and embankments, we would also build a channel to bypass Reading Bridge. This plan shows the proposed location of the channel. It would be half the width of the River Thames and would flow through a section of Christchurch Meadows and the south part of Hill’s Meadow car park, re-entering the River Thames close to Caversham Weir. The channel would always contain water. We would not build measures that increase flood risk to another community.

This plan shows the updated design for Reading Bridge Bypass Channel.

 

More Information

Click here to view a higher quality image of the landscape plan for Dean's Farm, Amersham Road and Lowfield Farm. In this area flood embankments are proposed through the area north of Caversham Lakes and Amersham Road Forest. We are considering 3 different alignments around Amersham Road recreation ground. The prefered technical solution would be for a flood embankment to go to the south of the recreation ground. This would tie into a flood wall which would go along Nire Road.

This plan shows the updated design for Deans Farm, Amersham Road and Lowfield Farm areas.

 

More Information

Click here to view a higher quality image of this landscape plan. This landscape plan includes Hills Meadow, Heron Island and Mill Green. In the Hills Meadow area we are proposing sections of flood embankment which would tie-in to existing high ground. We are considering 4 potential alignments of flood wall to the north of Heron Island. We are proposing a flood wall to run along the edge of the footpath through the Mill Green area. We will need to install temporary flood boards on top to the wall in a major flood for a short section.

This plan shows the updated design for Hills Meadow, Heron Island and Mill Green.

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Contact us

Let us know if you are not able to access any of the information on this site.

If you have any feedback on how we should improve this web page please let us know.

If you have any questions or feedback on the proposed flood scheme.

Contact us at Readingandcavershamscheme@environment-agency.gov.uk

 

Audiences

  • Members of the public

Interests

  • Flood management