Skip to content

Flooding issues in Sidmouth: part 2

  • by JW

‘Storm drain issues’ on Woolbrook Road have been getting worse…


During much of today, BBC Radio Devon has been warning of flooding down Woolbrook Road:


Plus weather warnings from East Devon’s MP today:


And more from the local media – with lots of startling photos – some of which have made their way into national coverage:

Highways chiefs said this afternoon that Woolbrook Road in Sidmouth was shut due to ‘storm drain issues’.

PHOTOS & VIDEO: Wild weather as Storm Dennis hits East Devon – flood warnings issued |

Treacherous travel conditions across Devon due to storm Dennis |


This has been the pattern for some time now:

December 2019: Torrential rain causing flooding on East Devon roads |

November 2016: Torrential rain wreaks havoc on Sidmouth’s roads |

June 2012: Freak rainfall causes flash flooding in Woolbrook |


It can get pretty bad, as this photo from 2012 shows:


Sidmouth floods (1)
Woolbrook Road junction with Bennetts Hill.Torrential rain has caused the Woolbrook to burst its banks half a mile up the road. This photograph was taken 7.30 in the morning as the water was subsiding it peaked about 5.30am.
The brook is normally 2 foot lower behind the fence on the right.

Has development made this worse?

Discussion at Sidmouth Town Council’s planning committee included the issue of potential flooding:
Concern was expressed regarding run off of water. A tanked storage system and attenuation pond would ensure that flood risk is not increased (From the Planning Committee minutes, 16 December 2009)

Futures Forum: Persimmon, Sidmouth and “promoting well-designed housing that is sustainable and provides much-needed new housing…”


There’s going to be more wet and rain and flooding in the coming years – the question being whether Sidmouth is prepared…


Looking at the STC website, the answer is not very clear:

Flooding |


There is the Devon Community Resilience Forum which has a 9-step guide on how to create a Community Emergency Plan:


But looking at the map: most places in Devon don’t have their own plan anyway:



We did have the “Flood Resilience Community Pathfinder project, a two year project funded by Defra” some five or more years ago

– which didn’t seem to go anywhere:

Council plan to reduce flood risk to properties

Devon Local Flood Risk Management Strategy Update |

With a long discussion thread from the time:

Futures Forum: Streetlife debates the election issues for Sidmouth: part 2


There have been some small-scale flooding defences since:

Knowle relocation project: flooding attenuation

Sidmouth homes to be protected from flooding


But is this really adequate?

Flooding issues in Sidmouth

Flooding and development in East Devon

Climate change and flooding: the impact on the Devon coast


There are some very good ideas out there, though:

Resilient responses to reverse the effects of urban flooding

Natural capital: our natural resources