THE threat of future flooding in Cullompton could jeopardise plans to build a much-needed relief road, the Environment Agency says.
An £11m bypass crossing the Cullompton Community Association (CCA) Fields is being planned to solve on-going congestion and traffic problems in the centre of the town.
Mid Devon District Council and Devon County Council are due to carry out a flood risk assessment on the land, which the agency says must show that a road there would not worsen the risk of flooding to homes and facilities in the town.
Mike Dunning, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency, said: "We would be looking for the assessment to inform any planning application that the proposed road is safe and does not make flooding worse for third parties.
"If the agency felt that following the production of a flood risk assessment the above has not been met, we would object to any application."
Such assessments are the responsibility of developers and should "be appropriate to the scale and nature" of the proposed project, Mr Dunning explained. In the case of the CCA Fields the assessment will be complex and involve a considerable amount of modelling, he said. A list of consultants who would be able to undertake this work has been sent to County Hall.
Adrian Lane, a spokesperson for Devon County Council, said engineers are liaising with the community association for permission to carry out a survey of the area.
The results would be used to establish a 3D model of the ground to help plan the road.
Mr Lane added: "The purpose of the flood risk assessment is to ensure a full understanding of the impact any scheme would have on the existing land drainage in the area and thereby to understand the flood mitigation measures that might be required. This information would also help with deciding on the potential route for any future road."
Eileen Andrews, vice-chairman and founder member of the CCA, is not against plans to build a relief road but believes an alternative location should be considered.
Mrs Andrews said: "I think with the amount of rain we have had, they ought to think seriously about putting a road there, but that is my personal opinion.
"My concerns are mainly around flooding. Chestnut Avenue is very close to the fields and if you put concrete along there, where is the water going to go?"
Mid Devon District Council will meet the town and county council to discuss the plan in coming weeks.
A spokesperson for the district council said: "Realistically, it is too early to know what any impact (the assessment) will have on the Cullompton relief road."