Anyone walking through Chelmsford High Street can’t help but notice a hole in the road alongside the entrance to Bond Street. The good news is that this is part of a major improvement to offer residents an exciting new open space at the top of the High Street.

It is part of preliminary works in the ambitious project that will pedestrianise and reshape Tindal Square and make the iconic Shire Hall more accessible. 

The Tindal Square improvement scheme is being led by Chelmsford City Council in partnership with Essex County Council and will see the High Street extended all the way to the doors of Shire Hall. The historic square will feature seating, new trees and be available as a space for public performances. 

Innovative engineering will tackle flooding

The pedestrianisation required a solution to alleviate the impact of flooding in the area. The answer is to install a stormwater drainage tank (also known as attenuation tank) under  the surface. These tanks collect and provide storage for excess surface water resulting from heavy rain or storm events. They sit under the ground’s surface and release the water at a controlled rate into the existing storm water drainage system.

The area for the tank is being excavated ready for it to be installed over the coming weeks. The tank along with the new drainage system, once installation is complete, will mitigate potential flooding in the area.

Highway Engineers are now investigating where utility pipes and cables are located so that the tank and utilities can both work safely and efficiently.

“This is the latest urban engineering. We need to identify current utility infrastructure within the excavation area, that is not marked on utility survey drawings.

“Once this has been completed, we can install the stormwater tank, which will collect water through inlets within the paving. This will ensure a pleasant and safe pedestrian environment for shoppers and visitors to the High Street.”

Stuart Graham, Economic Development and Implementation Services Manager

Sustainable drainage – how the tank works

The tank is being installed in order to improve the current underground drainage system so that it complies with modern standards in relation to climate change and predicted storm events.

The tanks are made watertight by impermeable geomembranes to prevent water seeping into the ground underneath. These tanks are needed in various places throughout the UK, normally in built up towns and cities, to create new forms of sustainable urban drainage systems.

Bringing history back to life

Tindal Square lies at the heart of the Chelmsford Central Conservation Area, a part of the city recognised for its historical significance. Sited at the crossroads of five streets, it has been a square since 1199. Shire Hall, a Grade-II*-listed building, dates back to 1790 as the headquarters of the Justices of Essex. It continued as a courthouse until April 2012.

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