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The River Roch, Rochdale and Littleborough Flood Risk Management Scheme (FRMS) seeks to address the high level of flood risk to the towns of Rochdale and Littleborough in Greater Manchester.
The towns have a long history of flooding with significant events recorded in 1991, 1995, 2008 and 2015. On the 26th and 27th December 2015, 324 properties were flooded during Storm Eva. The flood exceeded the previous highest recorded levels along the River Roch, causing widespread damage and disruption in the area. More recently there was flooding in the towns in March 2019, July 2019, November 2019 and 9th February 2020 (Storm Ciara). Several flood warnings for the River Roch at Littleborough and Rochdale were issued during Storm Christoph during January 2021.
The steep catchment and multiple tributaries cause the River Roch to respond rapidly to rainfall with river levels rising quickly. The urbanised river valley has an industrial heritage with a legacy of modified channels, bridges, culverts and weirs which further exacerbate the flooding problem.
|Phase 1A Planning Application Approved||May 2020|
|Enabling Works Construction Start at Gale||March 2021|
|Culvert Construction under the Railway at Gale||October 2021|
|Full Business Case Approval||Summer 2022|
|Planning Application Littleborough Phase 1B||Spring 2022|
|Construction start on remaining Littleborough Phase 1A areas and Littleborough Phase 1B||January 2022|
|Construction start on remaining Littleborough Phase 1B areas||Autumn 2022|
|Construction start Rochdale Phase 2||2023/2024|
Last updated: February 2022
Since 2012 the Environment Agency (EA) have worked with key partners, listened to and worked with the local community to generate a flood risk management scheme to reduce the risk of flooding in both Littleborough and Rochdale. Technical feasibility, economic viability, environmental sustainability and social acceptability were all considered when deciding on a preferred option.
The Rochdale and Littleborough FRMS will be delivered in two phases. Phase 1 (Littleborough) and Phase 2 (Rochdale – downstream of Smithy Bridge). The EA are phasing the construction works in this way because by beginning upstream in areas of Littleborough, the benefits will include a reduced flood risk for residents and businesses not only in Littleborough but also in Smallbridge and Rochdale.
The new £56m scheme is led by the Environment Agency in partnership with Rochdale Borough Council, Network Rail, the North West RFCC, Transport for Greater Manchester, and the Departments for Education and Transport.
The Littleborough planning application will be further divided into two phases: phase 1a and phase 1b. This will ensure pace is maintained. The planning application for phase 1a was submitted on 24th January 2020. Phase 1b is forecast to be submitted to the Rochdale Borough Council planning department in Spring 2022.
This first phase, known as the enabling works, consisted of constructing an access ramp from Todmorden Road (A6033) into the Gale West site (between the junction of Reddyshore Brow and Elim Street), constructing an access into the Gale East site (East of the railway line) and diverting Greenvale Brook within the Gale East site.
This phase consists of 8 work packages related to various locations within Littleborough. With the exception of the Enabling Works package, these works are forecast to begin in Early 2022. The works to be undertaken are:
Riverstone Bridge – Demolition of existing road bridge and footbridge and replacement with a combined road and footbridge, river channel widening and associated landscaping works.
Charles Street – Removal of existing bridge over the River Roch due to causing a constriction to flood flows in the river. Erection of infill wall to close the gap with wall mounted railing and associated landscape works.
Peel Street – Modification of existing flood wall to raise the height and associated landscape works.
Railway Street – Temporary works to allow 4 No. HGV vehicle movements, including temporary removal of existing bollards and installation of temporary barriers.
GNG Foam Converters – Construction of new flood defence wall in place of existing brick boundary wall.
Town House Brook – Raising of existing flood defence wall, installation of coarse trash posts, raising and extension of pedestrian ramp and associated landscape works.
Carriage Drive – Bank repairs to re-instate channel width and removal of debris in the existing culverts.
Gale Enabling works – please see section above.
This phase comprises of the proposed construction of a flood storage reservoir at the Gale site just off Todmorden Road. There are also three further linear defence works to be undertaken at sites within Littleborough to be included in this Phase:
Preliminary detailed design for phase 2 (Rochdale) is now underway and the main detailed design study is expected to start in summer this year – The Environment Agency look forward to engaging with residents, partners and businesses in the area at the same time once they have developed our proposals further.
The Environment Agency are committed to delivering the scheme as quickly as they can and will work closely with Rochdale Borough Council and other partners to ensure they are in a position to start construction works as quickly as possible.
The planning application for Phase 1a including the enabling works was submitted to Rochdale Borough Council in January 2020 and was granted in May 2020 subject to planning conditions. The planning application can be viewed on the Rochdale Borough Council Website here.
The planning application for Phase 1B was submitted to Rochdale Borough Council in April 2022. The planning application can be viewed on the Rochdale Borough Council Website here.
Alison Carlton, who works for Volkerstevin will now be a point of contact for residents to discuss the Rochdale and Littleborough project or raise any questions. She will also be present at the customer drop in cabins on the dates listed above, as well as out within the community.
Her contact details are:
The Environment Agency customer drop in cabins now have revised opening hours and days, the week commencing 23rd May 2022. The new opening dates and times will be Monday 10am – 12pm, Wednesday 12pm – 2pm and Wednesday 5pm – 8pm. Again, the cabins can be accessed via Stubley Gardens. Members of the Environment Agency project team will be present to answer any questions or queries you may have regarding the project.
Electricity Northwest have now completed their works at Riverstone Bridge, where they were temporarily diverting their services so that they are out of the way for construction works. This will coincide with the test pile passing it’s testing, so the remaining piles can now be installed once all services are temporarily moved. The piles will provide support and new foundations for the new bridge to sit on.
The Environment Agency have been undertaking key works at the Riverstone Bridge site with the arrival of a crane and piling rig on Monday 25th April. The works involved drilling deep into the ground to install a concrete plug and steel frame. This work was undertaken to ensure the ground is suitable to support the load of the new bridge the Environment Agency will be installing across River Roch in the months ahead. The works started Monday 25th April with the careful manoeuvring of the heavy plant needed for the operation through Railway Street and the housing estate. This was necessary due to weight limitations on the existing bridge crossing the river off Stubley Mill Road. Works were completed and the plant taken from site on Friday 29th April.
The project team at the Environment Agency took the opportunity to capture some drone footage of this operation to show the works and the challenges they had to overcome particularly with the limited access available to bring in the plant.
The piling rig will be leaving the Riverstone Bridge site on Friday 29th April. The same parking restrictions will apply to Riverstone Bridge and Railway Street, whilst the machinery is removed from site.
The customer drop in cabins will be starting from week commencing 25th April, with the first drop in on Tuesday 26th April. The drop in cabin will be open from 10am – 12pm, every Tuesday and Wednesday and can be accessed via Stubley Gardens. Members of the project team will be present to answer any questions or queries you may have regarding the project.
Over the next month, the project team are now reliant on utilities companies to divert existing services around the Riverstone Bridge area. This will ensure the area is clear of services before piling works begin.
A reminder that the piling rig is due to be onsite the week commencing the 25th April. The project team will out early in the morning, distributing cones in the street. There will be no parking within this area. Please see the map above for further details of the route the piling rig will take.
The planning application for Phase 1B was submitted on the 6th April and can be found via the link on the Planning Applications section on the flood hub. The Environment Agency welcomes any comments as part of the formal process to Rochdale Borough Council.
The compound at the Gale west site that will be servicing Phase 1a and Phase 1b work packages, is now completed. The compound is fully operational with welfare facilities for the onsite staff.
In order for the next stage of the works at Riverstone Bridge to move forward, a piling rig – a significant piece of heavy machinery – is required. Due to its size, the piling rig will be delivered through to Riverstone Bridge Estate via Railway Street on 25th April. As part of this, the Environment Agency project team will be putting cones out in the street early on the morning of the 25th April. There will also be a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order processed with the council preventing parking on the street to allow the piling rig to be moved safely. Please see the map below for the route that the piling rig will take. The Environment Agency will update here when the piling rig will be coming back out.
The planning application for Phase 1b has been submitted to Rochdale Borough Council, on 6th April 2022. Once this has been validated, it will become visible on the council planning portal. The Environment Agency will also put a link to the planning application page, here on the Flood Hub. The Environment Agency welcome any comments as part of the formal process to Rochdale Borough Council.
A temporary pedestrian bridge has now been installed at Riverstone Bridge and is open for public use, this will be in place until the bridge works in the area are complete. Also, at Riverstone Bridge the hoarding which surrounds the site has been painted in Environment Agency colours and site cabins have been delivered.
Forecasted for the middle of April, the Environment Agency will be bringing piling rigs onto the site. These will be used to assist the placing of bridge footings for the new bridge installation. Further communication will be sent out to the residents of Riverstone Bridge. Finally, an artist’s impression of what the bridge will look like upon completion is due to be released soon. Please check back here for further updates.
Scaffolding has been established in the river channel to enable the works to be completed along the flood wall. The wall rising is due to commence the end of March 2022.
The Environment Agency are hosting a drop in event on Thursday 17th March 2022 at The Coach House; Heritage Centre; Lodge St; Littleborough; OL15 9AE. The drop in will be focusing on Phase 1b works, in advance of the planning application being submitted in Spring 2022. The Environment Agency project team will be in attendance at the event to answer your questions about the flood risk management scheme, however they are happy to address any questions or concerns about the project, as a whole. The Environment Agency will be sending out a letter to local residents with information regarding the drop in session and an invite to view the latest newsletter on the Flood Hub page.
On 9th March 2022, cabins will be being delivered to the Riverstone Bridge site for both the Environment Agency site team to utilise and for customer drop in cabins. Once installed, the customer drop in cabins will become a regular spot for members of the public, to ask any questions for the Environment Agency’s project team. Once these have been installed and are up and running, the Environment Agency will update The Flood Hub page with regular drop in dates and times.
As part of works at Riverstone Bridge, the Environment Agency were looking to identify where existing buried services where located. It was important to locate the buried services before below ground works commenced, to ensure that no damage was done to services. One service, the gas main, was particularly tricky to locate. The Environment Agency brought Vac Ex machines on site which allowed for excavation without damaging surrounding services. They dug trial holes to find the gas main and as a result, the Environment Agency were successful in finding it on Friday 4th March. The Environment Agency can now safely divert it away from the working area in readiness for the new bridge.
The Environment Agency has now made progress on the works at Townhouse Brook with the customer fencing being removed to enable us to begin raising the existing flood defences. They have been stored in order to be reused once this section is completed. Also, at Townhouse Brook, a masonry wall is being built up on both sides of the river and the footpath has been reinstated.
The site team have been working hard at Riverstone Bridge to install the temporary footbridge and service bridge. Pictures of the progress are shown below. On Monday 28th February, the site team will be closing the existing footbridge and diverting all foot traffic across the new temporary bridge. The temporary bridge has been designed to ensure all pedestrian traffic, wheelchair users and pushchairs/prams can use the bridge safely.
There has been a number of enquiries to the Environment Agency recently in regard to tree removal as part of the project. The Environment Agency and their contractors limit tree removal to those absolutely necessary where they are physically in the way of construction works or where they pose a safety risk. The Environment Agency work with their contractors to ensure all other trees in the vicinity of the construction works are protected with measures such as root protection and temporary fencing. Upon completion of the construction works, a full reinstatement and landscaping plan will be undertaken, this includes replanting of significant numbers of trees where there has been necessary tree loss as part of the scheme. The landscape plans were submitted to Rochdale Borough Council as part of the Planning Application and can be viewed on the planning portal.
Finally, following the bad weather of the last week, the Environment Agency would like to remind members of the public that even with flood defences in place, you can never entirely remove the risk of flooding. It is important that you prepare for this by signing up for free flood warnings, related to river levels, by phoning Floodline, on 0345 988 1188, or by going to online: Sign up for flood warnings – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The Environment Agency have started work at Townhouse Brook which is a part of Phase 1A. Here existing flood defences will be raised to give a higher standard of protection from flood risk and will help to reduce climate change. Once finished, the Environment Agency will also begin to re-landscape the adjacent public right of way.
The Environment Agency are pleased to confirm that the new Culvert under the railway at the Gale site in Littleborough has been successfully installed. The culvert was installed by Network Rail and their contractor, J Murphy and Sons, in a 72 hour blockade of the railway and it will form a vital part of the proposed flood storage reservoir at the site. A time-lapse video was filmed during construction:
Not only will this work help to protect people, property and the environment, key infrastructure such as the railway will also receive a greater standard of protection from flooding on completion of the scheme.
Network Rail have now finished their works on site and have handed back over to the Environment Agency who will be focussing on Phase 1a construction and the continued design of Phase 1b in the New Year. Look out for fortnightly updates on this page, or if you have any questions, please email RochdaleAndLittleborough.FAS@environment-agency.gov.uk and one of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.
The Environment Agency are now beginning to progress works for the Littleborough Phase 1a part of the Flood Risk Management Scheme. The first task that needs to take place prior to construction works is tree and vegetation clearance. The majority of the vegetation and tree clearance will take place around the Riverstone Bridge work area, but there will also be some minor vegetation clearance around Charles Street, Peel Street, GNG Foam Converters and Townhouse Brook.
All the trees and vegetation will be checked by an ecologist prior to removal to check for any birds and wildlife. The Environment Agency will only be removing trees that are preventing construction of the Flood Risk Management Scheme and all remaining trees within close proximity to the work areas will have root protection zones in place during construction.
The timber that is removed from site will all be reused for Natural Flood Management where it will be used to create leaky dams on the hills above North Manchester. Once construction works have been completed there will be significant landscaping of the work areas involving the replanting of trees which will be a range of maturity, sizes and native species.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Project Team via the email address in the Contact Us Section.
Final Drone footage showing completed Littleborough Enabling Works.
The Environment Agency are pleased to announce the completion of the Enabling Works at the Gale site in Littleborough. On the 3rd September 21, the Environment Agency’s contractor Volker Stevin demobilised from site and handed the site over to Network Rail and their contractor J Murphy & Sons.
Network Rail will have control of the Gale site from 6th September 21 until 6th December 21 to install a new box culvert under the railway during a planned closure of the railway line at the end of October. For any enquiries about the works on site during this time, please direct them to Network Rail on 03457 11 41 41 quoting the project reference MVN2 – Littleborough.
For any questions about the wider flood risk management scheme, please continue to direct these to the Environment Agency on RochdaleandLittleborough.FAS@environment-agency.gov.uk
The Environment Agency has some great news to report this week, the Gale West Enabling Works are complete. This means the traffic management on Todmorden Road has been removed 3 weeks ahead of the original planned schedule. The Environment Agency wishes to again thank the community for their patience while these works were being undertaken.
The works on Gale East are also coming to an end for the Enabling Works phase with the final site tidy and demobilisation happening over the next 2 weeks.
On Completion of the Enabling Works, the Environment Agency will shortly be handing over the site to Network Rail and their Contractors to install a new culvert under the railway line. This culvert is a critical new asset for the future flood storage reservoir planned for the Gale site which will hold water back and slow the flow of the River Roch and Greenvale Brook into Littleborough town centre.
Please note, updates to the flood hub will now be taking place monthly rather than fortnightly, but the frequency of updates will increase again as the Environment Agency begin the construction works of Phase 1a. If you would like to get in touch with the Environment Agency during this time, please refer to the Contact Us page on the Rochdale and Littleborough Flood Hub page.
This month the Environment Agency’s contractor Volker Stevin has faced some challenges up at the Gale site in Littleborough, primarily due to the weather. There has been some really dry weather which meant the ground became very dry and dusty. The dust was successfully managed on site using water sprays and a road sweep to keep the highway clean and tidy.
The dry weather was coupled with some very wet weather leading to a lot of the site becoming waterlogged. Some of the site resembled a lake rather than grassland! The team on site were able to manage this excess water issue and progress with finishing up the compound area on the Gale West site.
The watercourse diversion of Greenvale Brook on Gale East is progressing well, and the sewer diversion within the field is also near to completion with final tie ins and surveys being undertaken this week.
Despite the challenges this month, the enabling works are due to finish ahead of the original programme around mid to late August. This is down to the ongoing hard work from the team on site.
The key activity that has taken place since the last update is that the new Bailey Bridge has been lifted into place by the crane to sit on top of the piles at Gale West access ramp. This means the Environment Agency are now very close to having a completed bridge for construction vehicle access into Gale West.
Works on Gale East have consisted of the setting up of the compound and site fencing, digging out the new Greenvale Brook channel which brings the watercourse into the middle of the field and also the construction of new manholes and sewer diversion.
Over the next 4 weeks the Environment Agency and their Contractor aim to finish all piling works for the enabling works, complete the haul road and compound area within Gale West and surface the bell mouth (where the Access ramp and Todmorden Road meet). The final works are then forecast to complete in August.
The Environment Agency will also be undertaking some topographical surveys within Reddyshore Brow and Shottwood Fold to inform the further detailed design of Phase 1b.
‘Ongoing works at Gale West and Gale East sites.’
Works have been continuing at Gale West, with the majority of the piling works now been completed in readiness for the temporary bridge to be lifted into place with the crane next week.
Gale East works have started, a short section of Greenvale Brook was temporarily dried out and overpumped including a fish rescue (approximately 46 trout were rescued) by our aquatic ecologists. This allowed the contractor to create a temporary crossing into Gale East to transfer machinery and stone to start the haul roads and river channel diversion.
The Environment Agency and their contractor are working as hard as possible to progress the works at Gale West as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to remove the traffic management on Todmorden road as soon as possible. The Environment Agency recognises the disruption caused and appreciates the public’s understanding at this time.
Work has been ongoing at the Gale West construction site and is making excellent progress. So far, the weather has been on The Environment Agency’s side with the sun shining on Littleborough for the majority of April. This has meant all works so far are progressing as per the programme. April saw the start of works at the Gale West site off Todmorden Road, with Traffic Management installed, initial piling works and the delivery of the huge 130 tonne crawler crane (full list of activities completed up until the end of April 2021 shown below). Unfortunately the works at this stage of the Flood Risk Management Scheme are disruptive and The Environment Agency pass on their thanks to the Littleborough community for their ongoing support and patience as they construct the vital access ramp into the Gale site. These updates will continue to be posted every other week so check back here to track The Environment Agency’s progress.
Below is a list of the works completed up to the end of April 2021:
Enabling work on a £56m flood alleviation scheme in Rochdale and Littleborough will get underway in the coming weeks.
It features a range of measures to reduce the risk of flooding to 1,000 residential properties and 200 local businesses across Rochdale and Littleborough.
For more information, view our news article here.
The first phase of works involves tree and vegetation clearance at one of the Littleborough sites. The integrated EA, Jacobs and Volker Stevin project team working in close partnership with Mersey Forest and Rochdale Borough Council have used the wood arising from the tree clearance works for Natural Flood Management works in the Littleborough area. The Natural Flood Management works assist in upland land management to “slow the flow” of watercourses to support flood attenuation and flood risk arising from fluvial flooding.
Tree chippings from the felled trees have gone to Hollingworth Lake Park to be used to make a footpath with help of local volunteers. Trunks that were collected from the construction activity have gone from Lydgate in Oldham for use in a tree nursery and Smithills in Bolton have used log barriers and tree planting to help store water in upstream areas, to prevent flood risk. Using the trees as Natural Flood Management will protect the local community’s from flooding impacts but also bring positive benefits for wildlife, water quality and climate regulation.
Here are some visualisations for the proposed flood storage basin at the Gale site in Littleborough. The documents are designed so you can zoom in and have a look at the proposals in more detail. If you have any questions or are struggling to view the documents, please contact the project team on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Environment Agency will continue to use Littleborough and Wardleworth Flood Action Groups to share information with residents as well as producing more newsletters and holding public drop-in sessions (subject to Covid-19 restrictions) linked to key stages of the project.
If you are outside the flood area and would like to be kept up to date with the Rochdale and Littleborough Flood Risk Management Scheme via email, please email RochdaleAndLittleborough.FAS@environment-agency.gov.uk to be added to the mailing list.
Visit Rochdale Borough Council’s website for flood risk information: www.rochdale.gov.uk/flooding.
You can also follow the Environment Agency on Twitter: @EnvAgencyNW.