Report blames Winchester flash flooding on climate change

  • Video report from ITV News Meridian's Christine Alsford

A new report into how flash floods brought the centre of Winchester to a standstill last summer has blamed climate change.

Up to 70 homes and businesses on low ground were left with thousands of pounds of damage after the extreme downpours and several shops had to close for days.

An investigation into how and why it happened is now recommending new pavements that let rain soak through and extra tree planting with 'soakaways' to improve the situation.

  • David Hazeldine, shop owner

Among the dozens of homes and businesses that were flooded: specialist tea shop Char. The shop owner thinks the city was ill prepared. 

Owner, David Hazeldine, says: "It has to be a drainage issue and if you look at some of the drains in the city centre they are totally blocked".

"If we have climate change then that is all the more reason to get this problem sorted now not wait for thousands of pounds worth of damage. Council, please, do something."

But the report says most drains continued to work and problems were caused by the sheer volume of water, made worse by the city's many hills and slopes.

Another contributing factor, a large number of hard surfaces that meant rainfall ran off rather than soaked through the ground.

It said the likelihood would be a similar event wouldn't happen for at least another 29 years.

Many residents are still keeping sandbags in place now. Credit: ITV News Meridian

In a statement Hampshire County Council said: "Sadly, events like this will become more common because of the effects of climate change".

"Providing further draining capacity across all urban areas isn't reasonable in terms of either cost or feasibility".

Lib Dem Councillor Martin Tod of Winchester Westgate, says that's not good enough: "An approach that says these kind of flooding events are going to be rare isn't going to be adequate".

Residents in another part of the city, Harestock, have also been affected and they are still keeping measures in place for a potential repeat of recent problems.

A range of measures including extra planting and permeable pavements are now being considered to reduce flooding risks.

But some continue to question if enough is being done.