‘RAIN gardens’ have been installed along a residential road to reduce the risk of homes flooding.

Park Avenue, Canvey, is the first road in Essex to have the gardens installed.

Road verges have been made into green ‘rain gardens’ with drainage material, plants and soil that help retain water and allow it slowly to soak away, holding surface water away from the road and homes.

A “swale” (shallow, grassy channel) has been installed in the greenspace nearby which will also capture surface water from the highway.

A wooden footbridge crosses the swale to maintain access to the greenspace during very wet periods.

“The area already looks much greener and is sure to be more resistant to flooding in this low-lying area in persistent rain,” Cllr Lee Scott, Essex County Council cabinet member for highways maintenance and sustainable transport, said.

“Park Avenue happened to have the necessary land on the verges available, but we can adapt the model elsewhere. I love the fact that 1,300 plants and 30 trees have been planted here to make it very much environmentally friendly.”

The rain gardens are a joint project between the Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Team at Essex County Council and Anglian Water, each contributing £130,000, and delivered by Essex Highways.

The verges will provide protection from surface level water, but do not offer protection against major flooding as seen before in Canvey in 2014.

Cllr Scott added: “This is a clever scheme, although it doesn’t solve wider flooding problems, but it is a good start and I congratulate all the partners involved.”

Jonathan Glerum, Regional Flood Risk Manager for Anglian Water, said: “The work will help to reduce localised flooding in the area and also provide an environmentally-positive and aesthetically pleasing solution for the local community.

“It’s important to us that we continue to work with key stakeholders within the region to implement more holistic and sustainable solutions where possible.”

County council bosses say the authority is keen to invest in more flood protection schemes with environmental benefits and has recently formed the Essex Climate Action Commission to identify further ways to mitigate climate change.