Charity funds sustainable drainage plan for Mytholmroyd Community Centre

Calder Valley
Photo credit: Warren Goodall

When the trustees of Mytholmroyd Community Centre in the Calder Valley were considering how best to improve their car park, they wanted a robust and sustainable solution. So they contacted local charity Slow the Flow – educators in natural flood management and sustainable drainage solutions.

Slow the Flow was set up after the Christmas and Boxing Day floods of 2015. If you live locally, you will no doubt remember that Pennine areas in the North of England had over 60mm of rainfall in 24 hours and some locations had over 100mm. During this time, the Calder Valley, with Mytholmroyd at the centre, suffered the most significant flooding event in recent times. Some 2,781 homes and 4,416 businesses were flooded all along the valley, causing unparalleled and significant damage.

Recorded flooding events in Calder Valley go back as far as 1615, so it was evident that some action needed to be taken. Slow The Flow was set up to look at the issue of why and how the valley floods and consider natural flood prevention measures and solutions to slow the volume of water that comes down the hillsides into the River Calder.

Flooded community centre
Photo credit: Warren Goodall

The group’s members are local and are all volunteers, giving up their time to secure a future for the Calder Valley and all who live, work, and visit here. Its trustees include landscape architects, geotechnical engineers, construction, and media professionals, brought together by a desire to make a difference. “We will not stop flooding events, but if we work collaboratively, we can reduce the risk of serious flooding. Building walls is not the only solution.” The knowledge that has built up over the last four years is now being shared with the community and wider afield.

Slow The Flow has developed into a charity working to advance the education of the public in natural flood management, sustainable drainage systems and other renewable methods of managing the environment, including the exploration of alternative practices which safeguard the natural environment and its resources in a manner which best fits the specifics of a local geography. It has considerable reach and influence, with widespread media coverage of our work and interest from local authorities, government agencies, councillors, MPs, and the government itself.

The Mytholmroyd Community Centre is a perfect example of how the charity is supporting local people and organisations. When the centre’s trustees were considering how to improve their car park it was the first time that they had embarked on such a scheme, which is why they contacted Slow the Slow. The community centre’s focus is on the local community in the Calder Valley and on improving the lives of local residents and businesses. This was foremost in their minds – especially concerning issues and challenges around flooding – when looking at how the car park could be designed.

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Following a few meetings, socially distanced of course, Slow The Flow agreed to finance the development of a masterplan for the car park as part of their opportunity mapping project in Mytholmroyd. The community centre employed landscape architects 2B Landscape Consultancy Limited to develop a plan, and once delivered this will form a central element for them in accessing funding to carry out the works themselves.

The manifestations of climate change, with increased rainfall and the general unpredictability of the weather, means we need to develop mitigation methods that work with nature rather than against it (or try to constrain it). The work in Mytholmroyd is a perfect example of developing sustainable solutions to manage land, to help mitigate some of the changes in water flows caused by climate change. Many, relatively small‑scale, natural flood management and sustainable drainage systems interventions like this, taken together, can result in a significant amount of water being temporarily stored, or attenuated, during storm events.

If you would like to know more about natural flood management techniques and sustainable drainage systems – from a domestic level all the way through to larger community and landscape projects – please visit Slow the Flow’s website. Whether it is a green roof on your shed, a clever water butt or a larger water attenuation pond, they all make a difference.

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