DRAINS and surface water run off areas are to be improved in St Neots to help guard against the risk of flooding from torrential rainfall.

A preliminary grant application of £429,000 has been made for the town by Cambridgeshire County Council to build new attenuation basins and swales, which are areas of low moist or marshy land, to absorb storm water.

A report by Hyder Consulting for the Cambridgeshire Flood Risk Management Partnership revealed that a heavy downpour could fill up drainage systems and the flood banks of the River Great Ouse, leaving residents in potential jeopardy.

Computer modelling showed four wetspots, which consisted of the Town Centre, Eynesbury Manor, Meadowsweet and Riverside areas.

"Our main concern is that with increased development taking place, it is absolutely vital we get this right," St Neots, Eaton Socon and Eynesbury County Councillor Catherine Hutton said.

"Having been flooded myself in the past, I am only too aware of the problems it can cause."

Cambridgeshire County Council flood and water manager Sass Pledger said the wetspots were chosen after considering where housing, critical infrastructure and vulnerable sites, such as schools and residential care homes, could be affected in the event of a flood.

If nothing is done, Hyder says floods could wreak damage costing £11 million to St Neots Town Centre and £15 million to Eynesbury Manor.

However in places that damage could be more than halved by taking the on board the recommendations of the Surface Water Management Plan.

It advises starting with "increased maintenance of ordinary watercourses and surface water drains within the wetspots".

Later there should be "smaller scale engineering work within specific locations except for the Riverside wetspot where combined small and large scale engineering work is recommended".

The plan encourages the council "investigate the current flood resilience of schools and other critical infrastructure" but also says there needs to be "property level resistance/resilience measures".

Cllr Bob Farrer, who also represents St Neots, Eaton Socon and Eynesbury, said he didn't think St Neots had huge problems compared to other parts of the county but that the plan would be welcome.