Kendal, located in southern Cumbria is benefitting from multi-million pounds worth of flood risk investment designed to protect homes and businesses from flooding. A key design feature of the flood defences is a high-performance glass within a high-specification stainless steel frame to protect properties, without spoiling the town’s historic beauty and retaining riverside views.

The 39-metre wall adjacent to Stramongate Bridge at the entrance to Gooseholme Park is the first location where the glass panels will be delivered. This section is the first of three locations where glass panels will feature within central areas of the town, comprising part of the 6 km of flood walls and embankments.

Through the phased scheme, the Environment Agency will deliver further flood defences to protect the most vulnerable homes in the area of Burneside, Staveley and Ings. In addition, flood storage in the upper catchment with complimentary Natural Flood Management will slow the flow and provide greater resilience. Once complete, it will reduce the risk of flooding for over 1,480 homes and 1,100 businesses.

The glass used as part of the innovative flood wall is a bespoke creation developed in collaboration with Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, part of the NSG Group, and chemical and materials manufacturer Kuraray, while the overall elegant flood system was designed and will be installed by Flood Control International.

It features alternating layers of glass and interlayer to create a 35 mm laminate, with toughened Pilkington Activ™ as the outer panes and a toughened 12 mm Pilkington Optiwhite™ middle pane. The glass panels undergo rigorous strength testing and have the capability to safely hold back water in the event of water levels rising.

Pilkington Activ™ self-cleaning glass reacts with natural daylight to break down and loosen organic dirt, meaning no harsh chemicals or regular manual cleaning is required. After the dirt is broken down the coating spreads rainwater evenly over the surface of the glass, helping to wash it away, ensuring that locals and visitors have a clear view of the riverside that runs through the centre of the town, as well as its distinctive buildings.

The use of Pilkington Activ™ laminated with Pilkington Optiwhite™ provides functionality and safety while helping to preserve the appearance of the landscape.

Kuraray’s support has ensured greater stability and clarity for the glass. A Kuraray SentryGlas® interlayer helps to ensure that should the glass be struck and fractured, the composite structure would still maintain resistance to the dynamic loading and impacts associated with flood waters. The design uses their patented technology, which was originally created to withstand severe hurricanes in the United States. This means the laminated glass is well suited to high-stress environments, including the pressures and influences caused by floodwater and debris.

Following Storm Desmond in December 2015 when 2,276 homes and businesses were flooded in Kendal, Burneside, Staveley and Ings, the Environment Agency along with former South Lakeland District Council, Kendal Town Council, professional partners and the community identified over 60 options to address the complex flood issues that affect the catchment. The preferred Kendal Flood Risk Management Scheme was presented in September 2018, and subsequently received planning approval with construction starting in February 2021.

Peter Maj, area sales manager at Pilkington UK, said: “This project has been one of collaboration and innovation to ensure that we provide residents of Kendal with a solution that not only benefits them in terms of safety but remains unobtrusive to the town’s landscape and heritage.”

“Our work with Kuraray has enabled us to provide a sophisticated glass solution that will stand up against the harshest conditions. The addition of our self-cleaning technology means that residents can rest assured that the proposed flood defences will remain clear, needing little maintenance throughout its service.”

Tom McCormick, Flood Risk Management Scheme Advisor for the Environment Agency, said: “It can’t be understated how far all parties have gone to ensure that this project protects those vulnerable to flooding while putting the community first.”

“A string of engagement talks, alongside a stringent planning process, has made sure that all community concerns have been taken into account. It’s been a pleasure to collaborate with conscientious partners as we work to safeguard Kendal, whilst ensuring the beauty of the town and its historic scenery are preserved.”

Jonathan Cornthwaite at Kendal Town Council said: “The Kendal Flood Risk Management Scheme will and already is proving beneficial for the local community. The safety of our residents is of the utmost importance to us, so the flood wall protecting the area’s most vulnerable whilst preserving the scenic beauty of our town is a welcome addition to Kendal’s riverbanks. And this is just the start – we’re looking forward to broadening protection further in the summer of this year with the next phase of this important community project.

Project: Kendal Flood Risk Management Scheme
Client: Kendal Town Council and the Environment Agency
Main contractor:  VBA, a VolkerStevin, Boskalis Westminster and Atkins, Member of SNC Lavalin group joint venture
Installer: Flood Control International

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