Prof. DINA D’AYALA (Professor of Structural Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering, University College London)

Title: ‘Identification and Quantification of Environmental Impact on Heritage Buildings: The Parnassus Experience’

Abstract: Current climatic trends point out important changes in major environmental parameters which seem to cause more frequent extreme weather events of accelerating intensity, such as extreme precipitation and flooding. These events, globally and in the UK, have a very strong impact on the built environment, and historic or heritage buildings are even more vulnerable to this impact due to their age and hence accumulated material or structural damage, that can be exacerbated by means of, among others, moisture ingress induced by these extreme weather events. For this reason, Parnassus Project was set up in 2010 with the aim of identifying and quantifying the climatic impact on the UK architectural heritage through extensive environmental monitoring and laboratory testing, with specific emphasis on flooding and wind-driven rain. This talk will outline the major findings from this research with case studies throughout the UK, including Barker Tower in York.

Dr. DAVID FRASER (Director, York Civic Trust)

Title: ‘An Historical Perspective on Flooding’

Abstract: York sits at the confluence of the Ouse and the Foss, and is influenced by a large catchment area.  The citizens of York have been affected by floods many times.  The paper will summarise the worst flooding events in York in the last thousand years and will use some contemporary images and records to illustrate their effects.  The earliest significant report of flooding comes from 1263 and in 1316 earthworks of York Castle were swept away.  In 1564 Ouse Bridge was damaged by floating ice.  The highest floods ever recorded in York came in 1625 and 1638.  Throughout the twentieth century a series of well documented floods hit the city, with the floods of 2000 being the highest of the century. The paper sets the scene for our preparations for the floods of the future.

TIM GODSON (Team Leader for Resilience & Emergencies Division (Northern), Department for Communities & Local Government, Leeds)

Title: ‘Making our places and communities more flood resilient’

Abstract: The talk will cover the government’s legislative and organisational framework for dealing with emergencies and longer term flood prevention.  It will cover some personal experiences of operating this framework over flood emergencies that impacted on Yorkshire and beyond in 2013-14 and 2015.  The talk will cover the findings of the government’s recently published National Flood Emergency Framework and how across agencies we can use its findings to develop more resilient places.  Having attended a United Nations conference in Florence recently I will bring some international perspectives on making our places and communities flood resilient.

Dr. NEIL MACDONALD (Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, University of Liverpool)

Title: ‘Reassessing flood risk at York using historical information for the River Ouse’

Abstract: The reassessment of flood risk at York, UK, is pertinent in light of several major floods over the last couple of decades, and heightened concerns flooding nationally. Systematic flood level readings from 1877 and a wealth of documentary records dating back to the thirteenth century provides a rich history of flood records. This extended flood record provides an opportunity to reassess estimates of flood frequency over a time scale not normally possible within flood frequency analysis. This paper re-evaluates flood frequency at York, using novel new approaches which embed historical information into the flood risk estimation process. Use of historical information is found to yield risk estimates which differ from those achieved using gauged records alone.

IAN PANTER (Head of Conservation, York Archaeological Trust)

Title: ‘You’re in a basement, below the water table and you’re flooded – what do you do next?’

Abstract: On Sunday 27th December 2015 the Jorvik Viking Centre was inundated with flood waters from the River Foss, the first major disaster to befall the museum since opening in 1984. However, as a registered museum the York Archaeological Trust already had in place an emergency plan which was implemented during the early evening of the 27th resulting in the rapid, but careful, removal of circa 1000 artefacts from the display before the floods hit. Whilst the artefacts were saved, much of the set and other displays were irreparably damaged and the Centre remains shut until Easter 2017 whilst the major overhaul is completed. This paper will consider the events of that night, and look at the lessons learned and how we’ve had to adapt as a below-ground attraction in a flood risk area

NEIL REDFERN (Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments & Development Management Team Manager (Yorkshire), Historic England)

Title: ‘National Perspectives / New Thinking; New Thinking / National Perspectives’

Abstract: Is it time to give up flood prevention strategies with all the fixed defences they entail as kneejerk and short-sighted approaches to flood events? Too often they seem to be driven by the need to be seen to be doing something rather than understanding how we can foster more resilient* communities. How do we change the emphasis to encompass broader water management strategies, resilience strategies and a less fabric first approach to the management of the historic environment and therefore help people and communities be better able to cope. Using my experience I will consider how the immediate and obvious answers are not always the right or best thing to do. We have been dealing with flooding and water management issues for generations as illustrated in York yet the City is still a vibrant and successful place. So why do we see such emotive responses and shouts of doom and gloom regarding heritage assets after flooding? Is it time for us to look at the bigger picture and accept the renewal of heritage asset after flooding is just part of their and our evolving story.

*Here I use resilience not as used in emergency planning but rather in the sense of how we need to change heritage assets and peoples perspectives to better cope with changing weather patterns.

HEATHER SHEPHERD (Community Support & Flood Recovery Specialist Member, The National Flood Forum)

Title: ‘Recovery issues and the affected community’s perspective’

Synopsis: What are some of the issues in flood recovery and how are the flood affected feeling; how a disaster can have an outcome of future resilience when communities are empowered to lead the way.

ALESSANDRA SPREGA (WRoCAH PhD student, University of York)

Title: ‘Local Flood Culture in the Historic Core of York: A Method Towards Resilient Buildings’

Abstract: Over the last few decades, the cultural heritage of York has been threatened by an increasing number of floods due to climate change. This study provides an analysis of a particular historic building in York, Cumberland House, in which a new methodology is tested to increase the resilience of traditional building materials in order to safeguard the building’s authenticity and integrity. This paper aims to highlight the architectural elements which form the Local Flood Culture of York. Understanding the traditional measures which were used to mitigate against flooding is a crucial aspect which enhances the conservation discourse on the prevention culture in flood-prone areas.

RICHARD STORAH (Director & Architect, Storah Architecture)

Title: ‘St Michael’s Church, Mytholmroyd’

Abstract:  On Boxing Day 2015, flooding occurred throughout the Calder Valley. In Mytholmroyd, the Rivers Elphin and Calder combined at their highest level recorded, over 3.5m above the usual peak. Three buildings were washed away; homes and businesses were left uninhabitable. St Michael’s Church is alongside the Calder in the centre of the town. The rivers combined in the churchyard, leveling gravestones and boundary walls and flooding the church and church hall to a depth of 1.2m. Recovery was initially slow with drying out hampered by a poultice of fine silt over the ground, sub-floor voids, floors and internal finishes. A low-impact approach of opening up, dehumidifying and ventilating the church and sub-floors proved ineffective in the colder winter months, but allowed time to consider how to improve the building and build in flood resilience measures whilst retaining historic significance and a sense of continuity. A low key reordering is proposed, leveling floors and building in flood resilience measures. The Environment Agency are involved as they propose widening the Calder by removing part of the churchyard and underpinning the north of the church.

Capt. STEPHEN UPRIGHT, RN (Clerk to The Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York)

Title: ‘The Merchant Adventurers Hall’s Unwelcome Christmas Present’

Abstract: In the mid-14th Century The Merchant Adventurers Hall was built on a vulnerable site beside the River Foss for undoubtedly commercial reasons and must have suffered many flooding events over the centuries. Since the building of the Foss Barrier after the 1982 floods there had been no flooding incidents in the Hall until Boxing Day 2015 when the barrier failed. The water reached a depth of 1.1 metres in the Undercroft of the Hall and although the water was only in the Hall for a short time there was significant damage. The talk will discuss the flooding event itself; its impact on the ancient and modern fabric of the building; the effect on the collections; the long recovery process and our efforts to build in further resilience.

STEVE WRAGG (Flood Risk & Asset Manager, City of York Council)

Title: ‘York – Living and adapting to flood risk’

Abstract: The floods of December 2015 resulted in the flooding of 627 properties, many of these properties being flooded for the first time since 1982 from record flood flows in the River Foss catchment. Many alongside the River Ouse have undertaken measures to make themselves resilient to flooding, but years of managed flood risks in communities along the River Foss and its tributaries mean many were less resilient here and the impacts have been far reaching. City of York Council and the Environment are working in partnership to identify the long-term interventions to improve flood protection in the city. This work will look at the improvements that are needed to flood defence assets across the city and the potential actions across the wider catchment to manage future climatic change. This presentation will highlight the historic and current flood risks in the city, the work of all partners to manage these risks and the future impacts of flooding and the ways in which we need to work together to reduce the impacts on our homes, businesses and lives.

Dr. LORRAINE YOUDS (Research and Innovation Manager: Urban Living, University of York)

Title: The York City Environment Observatory: Drawing the links between the quality of the environment and the impacts on health, wellbeing and the economy’

Abstract: The York City Environment Observatory (YCEO) pilot project is one of five programmes funded by RCUK and Innovate UK under its Urban Partnerships programme. The vision for the YCEO is to establish York as an exemplar city for better understanding the links between the quality of the natural, cultural, social and built environments and the health and wellbeing of citizens and the economy of the city. The YCEO will employ cutting-edge monitoring and data analytic technologies to provide intelligence to allow informed decisions to be made on the design and management of the city and surrounding environments into the future, providing long term benefits for York and surrounding regions. The technology and approaches developed in the observatory will be transferable to other urban areas in the UK and internationally for instrumenting, monitoring, managing and designing their built and natural environments to maximise benefits to their citizens.