Hundreds of properties in Skipton are set to be protected from future flooding thanks to £9.7 million flood defences.

The Government announced this week it would be contributing £7.6 million to the scheme which will involve the building of two water storage areas on the eastern fringes of Skipton in addition to flood walls in the town.

The remaining £2.1 million will have to come from partner agencies, Craven District Council, North Yorkshire County Council and the Environment Agency, and also the private sector.

In addition to protecting up to 378 homes and 165 businesses at risk of flooding, the scheme is set to pave the way for the development of the South Skipton Employment site, including an out of town Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Skipton MP Julian Smith said the Government funding would mean the scheme, which has been in the planning for years, could be implemented earlier than expected.

“I am pleased that the Government has approved funding for this scheme which will bring benefits for both homes and businesses in Skipton which are at risk of serious flooding.

“The added protection for businesses is particularly important to give existing companies the confidence to invest in their operations and encourage new businesses to start up in the area, growing our local economy.”

The main part of the works will see the creation of two water storage areas to limit the flow of Eller Beck and Waller Hill Beck through the centre of Skipton.

The two storage areas, subject to landowner agreement and planning permission, could be sited at Skipton Golf Course and on land at Elsey Croft off Otley Road.

There will also be some minor works in the town centre to further improve defences.

The flood alleviation scheme, which has been in the planning for some time by Craven District Council, the Environment Agency and North Yorkshire County Council, this week received the backing of £7.6 million from the Government. The remainder of the cost will have to be found by the partner agencies and the private sector, including existing businesses and others interested in moving into the town or relocating to the South Skipton Employment site.

The site – between Engine Shed Lane and Carleton Road – has been identified by Craven council as an area suitable for growth.

In January last year, the council acknowledged that it would probably have to allow a supermarket or a high degree of housing on the site for it to progress and also to attract significant contributions towards a flood alleviation scheme for the whole of Skipton.

It was confirmed this week at a meeting of the council’s planning committee that Sainsbury’s was in discussions about building a supermarket at the site.

Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton (Cons), leader of Craven District Council, said the Government funding meant that the planned flood defences would be progressed sooner than anticipated.

“The scheme will have a significant impact on the local economy allowing a number of businesses that we and our partners have been working with to realise their plans to grow and create new job opportunities,” he said.

“In addition to safeguarding the town centre, the scheme will provide immense peace of mind to the many households who regularly experience the distress of having to deal with flooding.”

In October 2000, properties and businesses in and around Broughton Road and Belmont Street were flooded when peak flows in Eller Beck resulted in the collapse of a wall upstream of the Broughton Road culvert.

Earlier in the same year, 25 properties in Back Bridge Street were flooded when a wall collapsed in Eller Beck.

In July 1979, properties in Carleton New Road and the mill upstream of Mill Bridge flooded and Eller Beck overtopped into the canal. And in 1982 large parts of the town centre were left under 3ft of water.

John Woods, flood management officer at the Environment Agency, said news of the government funding was great for Skipton.

“An important part of this scheme is that it also relies on partnership funding contributions from the private sector, local businesses who will benefit from the acceleration of this scheme,” he said.

“We will continue to work with businesses in the town to get the most from this funding and to make sure that those businesses who contribute get the best possible deal for their investment.”