Concerns over housing plans

RESIDENTS opposing plans for a new housing estate on the edge of Morpeth have been given encouragement by a report which raises concerns about how the proposed site would deal with potential flooding.

Hundreds of people, as well as county councillors, Hepscott Parish Council and Morpeth Town Council, have objected to an application by Barratt David Wilson Homes and Tees Valley Housing for 396 homes on a site south of the A196 – between Hepscott and Stobhill.

They believe the development would be inappropriate for the area as it would add to the traffic congestion that already takes place at peak times and put major strain on schools and services in the community.

Other points raised include that it would reduce the greenfield area between Morpeth and Hepscott and increase the flood risk to these communities.

Now a report submitted online by Northumberland County Council’s flood and coastal erosion risk management team recommends a reason for refusal because it does not believe that the applicant has addressed the issues regarding the site’s surface-water drainage strategy and off-site flood risk.

It includes the following: “No information about the on-site scheme to dispose of surface water from the new dwellings and roads has been stated within the applicant’s flood risk assessment.

“It is assumed that all water from these areas will be piped and will flow down into the attenuation pond in the corner of the site.

“If this is the approach to be taken, we will require a drawing detailing this and a set of calculations demonstrating that no water will come out of the system in the one-in-30-year event and in the one-in-100-year plus climate change event for a range of rainfall durations, any water that does come out of the system will be contained on site, be safe and will not cause any nuisance or damage to people and property.

“The above stated approach is a conventional scheme and is not a sustainable drainage system (SuDS) scheme. Therefore, it is in contradiction with paragraph 103 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

“A SuDS scheme for this development should include features such as soakaways, infiltration trenches, permeable pavements, grassed swales, green roofs, ponds and wetlands.

“SuDS offers significant advantages over conventional piped drainage systems in reducing flood risk by attenuating the rate and quantity of surface water run-off from a site and improving water quality. Ponds, reedbeds and seasonally flooded grasslands can be particularly attractive features within public open spaces. The flood risk assessment fails to look at off-site areas when analysing surface water run-off.

“Off-site areas need to be looked at and any calculations need to be amended accordingly.

“In addition, will run-off directly from the fields affect any proposed housing on-site? There were no drainage ditches or swale devices proposed that would intercept this water.

“In summary, we raise an objection to the proposed development because the document does not provide a suitable basis for assessment to be made of the flood risks arising from the proposed development.

“In order to overcome our objection, the following needs to be submitted or analysed further: Topographic survey, existing flow routes, existing catchments, off-site contributing areas, retention of existing drainage features, receiving watercourse, ground conditions, sizing and calculations of the attenuation feature, calculations on other surface water drainage features and use of SuDS within the development.”

The plans are for a mix of two to five-bedroom executive homes, with 30 per cent set aside for affordable housing.

There would be children’s play facilities, ecological enhancements and a new wildlife wetland zone.

As well as the letters of objection, more than 400 people signed a petition calling for the development to be refused by the county council.