Flood waters impact 100 homes and closes pub for six months

Flood waters impact 100 homes and closes pub for six months
Flooding in Capel

Pembury Waterworks and Reservoir, which has supplied water to the Tunbridge Wells area since 1886, has been at maximum capacity since last November.

Following heavy rain when Storm Ciara battered much of the South East last week, a deluge of water from the reservoir was sent towards Five Oak Green in Capel.

The area has been earmarked for around 4,000 new homes in Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s local plan.

Around 100 properties in the area were affected by the flood waters, including the Dovecote Inn pub in Alders Road, Capel, which will now be closed for the next six months.

“The pub has never flooded before, certainly not in the last 25 years according to the locals,” said Xanthe Parrott, landlady of the Dovecote. We have had to rip up all the floorboards, and everything will have to be thrown out because it’s covered in muddy, filthy water.”

She added that the cost of the flooding is as yet unknown. “I’ve just thrown out £3,000 worth of food, and we are looking at being closed for six months, so we’ve no idea how much this will cost. We are waiting for the insurance assessors to make a decision,” added Ms Parrott.

Parish Councillor in the area Hugh Patterson, who is also a member of the campaign group Save Capel, told the Times: “It started around 6pm on the Sunday evening [February 9]. The flood was particularly violent and struck Tudeley, Five Oak Green and the hamlet of Capel – which was badly hit.

“A lot of people got a lot of water in their homes very quickly. The fire brigade came to help pump out the water, but they struggled to find somewhere to expel the water because the Alders Stream goes into the reservoir, and that is at full capacity.”

What caused the flooding…

Cllr Hugh Patterson believed the flood was caused by a ‘sluice valve’ being opened by South East Water to relieve the pressure on the Pembury reservoir during the storm,

The water authority deny any such valve exists.

A spokesperson said: “Our Pembury Reservoir has been full since November 2019 which is normal for this time of year and especially so during a wet winter. 

“When the reservoir is at full capacity, the water continues its journey back into the Alders Stream through a letterbox style overflow opening. This works in a similar way to the overflow in a sink or bathtub and has no valves associated with it – the water simply flows through when the reservoir is full. It has been doing this since for more than 100 years.” 

He added that the area was hit by 28mm during the weekend of the flood.

The Environment Agency said they were investigating the cause of the flooding.

A spokesperson said: “We did an initial investigation the following day and found that the flood water originated from a ditch to the North West of the properties, not the Alder streams. We intend to investigate the causes of the flooding when the current weather situation and heavy rainfall have passed. 

“Flooding has a devastating impact on people’s lives. Our thoughts are with those who have been flooded and those waiting to return to their homes.”


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