MORE than a million pounds is set to be invested in a sluice channel at a park in Poole to prevent a “catastrophic failure” in the future.

The sluice channel at Harbourside Park will be replaced and the manual sluice gate in Poole Park will be upgraded using contributions from development.

A report to BCP Council cabinet said the “poor and further declining” condition of the assets meant access is now restricted to the shared path and vehicle access is prohibited.

“As time goes on the likelihood of catastrophic failure increases, posing a risk to users, lagoon operations and water levels, and dividing up the greenspace,” the report said.

Cabinet members approved using £1.239million in community infrastructure levy to design, obtain consent and construct the sluice channel replacement and sluice gate upgrade. The final sign off is required from full council in July.

Councillor Philip Broadhead, BCP Council deputy leader, said: “This is exactly what the community infrastructure levy is designed for. It is monies that are collected from the development community to help improve the long-term sustainability of our community assets.

“This is clearly needed. It has been needed for some time. The sluice channel in particular we are now maintaining ongoing issues so this gets ahead of that issue and hopefully secures that in the long term.”

The sluice channel, which was built in the 1960s and runs underneath Harbourside Park, supplies seawater to Poole Park lagoon from Poole Harbour and allows freshwater from the lakes and upstream to run out to the harbour.

“The condition of the sluice channel underneath the shared path has now deteriorated to a point that it is no longer safe for service vehicles to drive over due to the potential for collapse and therefore it was closed off to vehicular movement in 2021,” the report said.

“It is likely that this section will need to be closed permanently for all users sometime in the short-term future as the condition of the channel continues to worsen if nothing is done.”

The sluice gate changes will allow it to be controlled remotely.

At present it has to be manually opened and closed by council staff, which can often involve them having to go to the site in the middle of the night This involves heavy lifting over deep water and uses around £15,000 a year of officer time.

Councillor Broadhead said he was “flabbergasted” to discover that staff were sometimes having to get up in the middle of the night to open or close the gate.

He said this way of doing it was “a bit of an answer from the 19th century rather than the 21st century”.

Councillor Andy Hadley, Poole People member for Poole Town ward, said he welcomed the investment before raising an issue with flooding at Keyhole Bridge.

Cabinet member Cllr Mike Greene said he would like to see this resolved but it was a completely different issue.

Peter Christie, BCP Council’s capital projects manager in flood and coastal erosion risk management, said a meeting with Wessex Water had taken place and discussions over funding were ongoing.