Plans to open up a culvert to help protect Todmorden from flooding


Shade Chapel is being demolished this month so that work can be carried out to open up the culvert beneath it to help reduce the flood risk for residents and businesses in Todmorden.

The building is being taken down following significant damage to the culvert bed, walls and support beams during floods earlier this year.

A section of Rochdale Road near Shape Chapel will be closed to traffic and pedestrians over the weekend, from 8pm on Friday 27 November until 6am on Monday 30 November, so that the work can be carried out safely. There won’t be any access for vehicles, except for emergency services and residents along Knowlwood Road.

Warning signs will be in place to give motorists advanced warning of the work and traffic will be able to follow diversion signs. Letters are being sent out by the Environment Agency’s project team this weekend to affected residents to let them know details of the work. A map showing the affected area is available at link)

Once the chapel has been demolished, work will continue to be carried out on the site with a single road closure and traffic lights in place along Rochdale Road.

This includes removing the remaining sections of culvert up to Shade Chapel school and remedial works to the sides of the channel.

Tony Hartley, project manager with the Environment Agency, said:

“Removing the chapel will allow the water to flow more freely through the open channel removing the risk of it collapsing in the future and flooding the local area.

“If we had not carried out this vital work, around 250 properties in the area would be at risk of flooding as the building is not stable and the river could be blocked.

“The end result will be an aesthetically pleasing stretch of river using the stonework of Shade Chapel.

“We are also working with Shade Primary School and Incredible Edible to develop plans for landscaping options on either side of the river channel to provide useful areas for the local community.

“We are aware of the ongoing work in the area at Gauxholme Viaduct and are working closely with Network Rail to minimise any disruption to the community where we can.”

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Resilience, Cllr Scott Patient, said:

“The severe flooding in February this year caused major damage to the culvert beneath Shade Chapel, meaning the building became unstable. The loss of the chapel is incredibly sad, but unfortunately demolition is the only option.

“Large machinery will be needed to quickly and safely demolish the building, so it will be necessary for Rochdale Road to close whilst the works are carried out.

“Once demolished, the risk of future flooding will be reduced and the area will be landscaped. I’m pleased that the Environment Agency plan to use the stone from the chapel as part of the work.”

Throughout the late spring and summer, contractors BAM Nuttall employed by the Environment Agency, carried out urgent work to prevent the collapse of Shade Chapel into Walsden Water. They temporarily replaced the culvert walls and ceiling under the Chapel.

Unfortunately the damage to the culvert and building is too extensive to repair and the plan is now to demolish the building and open up this stretch of river.

Last week a section of the flood wall, which is structurally part of Todmorden Market Hall, was reinforced as a precaution to make sure it was robust to help better protect the town ahead of the forecast for heavy rain.

The Environment Agency officers will carry out regular inspections of the culvert to ensure its safety whilst long-term proposals are being developed.

All works will be carried out in line with the latest guidance from Public Health England regarding safe working on construction sites.

If you have any concerns of questions about the work, you can contact us by emailing

If you want to report an incident or flooding from rivers or streams 0800 80 70 60 (Freephone, – 24 hour service).

For general enquiries tel: 03708 506 506 (Mon to Fri, 8am to 6pm).
You can also contact Floodline:  0345 988 1188 (24 hour service) .

Environment Agency flood schemes protected almost 130,000 properties during the winter 2019/20 flooding. Our incident response teams will always work around the clock to support the community and our top priority is the safety of residents.

Since 2015, the Government has invested £496m flood defences in Yorkshire – more than any other region – better protecting more than 66,000 properties.

Climate change is already causing more frequent, intense flooding and sea level rise and we can’t totally eradicate flooding, so make sure you are signed up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warning service link)

For more information on how to make sure you are prepared and to find out if you are at risk visit: link)

There are some simple things you can do to prepare for flooding which could help keep you and your family safe, and save you thousands of pounds in damages and disruption. For more information and to find out if you are at risk visit link)

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