Fenland councillor brands new Wisbech flood wall a ‘hideous monstrosity’

A CONCRETE wall built to protect Wisbech from flooding for the next 100 years has been branded a “hideous monstrosity” by a Fenland councillor.

Councillor Jonathan Farmer, of Medworth Ward, voiced his concerns about the wall along the Nene Quay, built by Cambridgeshire County Council, at a Fenland District Council meeting on Thursday.

Addressing fellow councillors, Cllr Farmer said: “I would like to raise the issue of a new structure in Wisbech of such monstrous hideousness that it beggars belief.

“My issue is not with the purpose of the wall, it is with the disgusting appearance of it. It is a hideous monstrosity.”

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said the wall was built higher as it is designed to withstand vehicle impacts, as well as protect Wisbech from flooding for 100 years.

The height, which is 1.4 metres above the adjoining footway, will ensure that the council does not need to return to raise it further in this time. It is also in line with UK design standards concerning the adjacent cycleway.

After the meeting, Cllr Farmer called for changes to the planning process, claiming the new wall was a total contrast to one opposite, which was put up by the Environment Agency.

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He said: “In terms of consultation I don’t think I’ve seen anybody as good as the Environment Agency were.

“The contrast with Cambs County Council is huge. They just turned up one day, closed the roads, nobody knew it was happening and then they put up a Berlin style wall.”

Cllr Farmer said he had been disappointed by the county council’s “arrogant” approach to consulting local people before the development.

“It is a tourist area and a conservation area and the wall is completely incompatible with it. It is an arrogant approach to planning - they don’t have to consult anyone and they won’t.”

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said the work was a ‘permitted development’ as they were replacing an existing cantilever structure. He said this was only the beginning of the scheme, and finishes to the wall will take place at a later date.

He said: “We will be meeting with Wisbech Planning Committee on 11th October to discuss the various phases of the scheme and can discuss the options for the aesthetics of the wall that can be put in place once the main structural works are complete.

“We are happy to also discuss the various stages of the scheme and aesthetics with Fenland District Council planners. New concrete does need to blend in with existing adjacent concrete finishes.”

One Wisbech resident, Pearl Davies, said the concrete blocks do not fit with the surrounding area.

“It looks more like the Berlin Wall,” she said. “Ugly grey concrete, five foot high and totally unsuitable next to the wall on the other side of the town bridge.”