Calthorpe Estates Reveals Plan for Selly Oak and Pebble Mill Flood Risk Management Scheme

Calthorpe Estates Reveals Plan for Selly Oak and Pebble Mill Flood Risk Management Scheme

Calthorpe Estates has revealed plans for a £4 million flood risk management scheme to significantly reduce the risk of flooding from Bourn Brook, the tributary of the River Rea, for around 150 local homes and businesses.

Over the last three years, as part of the Rea Catchment Partnership, Calthorpe Estates has worked closely with the Environment Agency, Birmingham City Council and other stakeholders. It has now submitted a detailed planning application which proposes a solution to reduce the risk level of flood along a three kilometre stretch.

The flood risk management project involves the deepening and widening of an area of existing flood water storage near the Bourn Brook Walkway on Harborne Lane, increasing the capacity of the storage ‘reservoir’ by almost double.  Wildlife habitat and ecology improvements are also proposed.

In conjunction with this, the existing ground level would be raised at the three-acre site of the former BBC Sports and Social Club at Pebble Mill – an area which has previously been unusable in planning terms, due to its flood status and its historic private use by the BBC.  Here, the formation of a flood relief overflow channel off Bourn Brook is proposed.

The channel will further reduce flows to and under the historically-vulnerable Pershore Road Bridge, centrally dissecting the land; and from here, a new underground flood relief culvert is proposed to allow a second flood water route passing under the Pershore Road to the River Rea in Cannon Hill Park to complete the flood mitigation scheme.

To help fund the scheme, Calthorpe Estates has proposed to bring the site of the former Pebble Mill Sports and Social Club back into use through development.  Whilst the Environment Agency will seek funding towards the works through a business case submission, significant other funding streams are needed through private partner contributions to meet this very large cost.

An outline planning application for an element of the former Pebble Mill Sports and Social Club includes three new mixed-use buildings.  A student living scheme has been designed to accommodate up to 340 students, and ranges in size from four to six storeys in height.  At the newly-opened Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry, 60 metres away on Pebble Mill, over 600 students are trained as a satellite to the University of Birmingham and many require suitable living space.

Two food and drink outlets also form part of the outline planning application.  The one and two storey buildings are 5,000 sq ft and 1,800 sq ft in size respectively and will offer on-site amenities to support the 250,000 visitors, employees and students who will use Pebble Mill.

Ralph Minott, Director of Development at Calthorpe Estates, said: “Working as part of the Rea Catchment Partnership over a number of years we have been introduced to the scale of suffering homes and businesses in Selly Oak North have endured over many years, from what on face value to us manifested as ponding at our former BBC Social Club site.  This has been particularly sobering, especially when reviewing the flood damage in 2008, when residents were forced to move out of their homes.

“This opportunity is incredibly bold and ambitious, both in terms of partnership working and the complexity of the many parts of the proposals, however it is testament to Calthorpe Estates’ partnership with Birmingham City Council and our collaboration as part of the Rea Catchment Partnership.  We express our thanks to all who have worked tirelessly on this project, and take genuine pride in this.  We certainly feel our goal meets the ambitions for creating a ‘New Place’ at Pebble Mill post-The BBC, and the original masterplan vision from 2003.

“We hope the application receives support, as we strive to make a real difference to people living in the vicinity of Pebble Mill and to ensure the location is a new vibrant destination.”

Mike Adams, Environment Agency Flood Risk Adviser, said: “Flooding can have devastating impacts on people and their homes, often long after the water has gone. Over the last three years we’ve worked as part of the Rea Catchment Partnership to investigate options for slowing water down, storing water in extreme storm events and managing overland flow routes. We hope the plans outlined above will help to reduce the risk of flooding for over 150 homes and businesses.”

Rea Catchment Partnership (

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