A FLOOD alleviation initiative which will see bespoke property-level protections introduced, street planting to improve drainage and reduce the volume of water entering sewers, has taken a major step forward after being granted a £500,000 boost.

After more than eight years of efforts to further protect the Malton, Norton and Old Malton area when the River Derwent bursts its banks, the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership has approved the the largest share of funding needed for the project, which will also see North Yorkshire County Council invest £450,000 and Ryedale District Council £320,000.

Confirmation of a £320,000 award for the scheme from the Environment Agency is expected imminently, with the project already appearing on the government body’s medium term grants plan.

It is hoped the scheme will end centuries of flooding misery for residents of the towns, despite numerous measures being implemented in an attempt to overcome inundations. When Old Malton was flooded in 1867 it was noted that the streets had been raised by nearly three feet since the “Great Flood of of 1846”. In 2005 almost 170 properties flooded in Malton and Norton.

The project will also see capital improvements to Riggs Road drain in Old Malton, improvements to local flood warning procedures, the construction of chambers to house temporary pumps, and control of surface and groundwater “flowpaths” in Castlegate and Sheepfoot Hill. It is understood the county council will look to press ahead with the scheme when possible as the enterprise partnership’s grant award must be spent before April next year.

The scheme is costed at about £1.5m - down from an initial estimate of £3m as it will feature chambers to hold the temporary pumps rather than permanent ones.

The main river flood risk in the area is managed by the flood gates and defences operated by the Environment Agency, but when river levels are high drainage systems which flow into the Derwent cannot discharge and residents have suffered surface water flooding. Even with an action plan and emergency plan being launched in November when the river levels rose, a pedestrian bridge collapsed and residents were advised to avoid low lying footpaths near watercourses and driving through floodwater.

In recent years residents have also suffered from flash flooding following storms, which has seen drains backing up and some businesses left trying to defend their premises with sandbags.

County council executive member for access, Councillor Don Mackenzie welcomed the funding, saying the measures would mean “a great deal to the residents of Malton and Norton”.

Malton councillor Lindsay Burr said she was thrilled the project was set to be fully funded after eight years of constructive cross-party working to develop cost-effective solutions that were vital for residents.

She said: “The defences that have been introduced have held up so far and have been a great improvement. However, in the past we have suffered unbelievably. Flooding cuts off our towns and makes it incredibly difficult for anybody to get out, like a lockdown in the towns. Everything was affected. It is of critical importance to get this scheme in place.”