Flooding mitigation evidence is ‘lacking in robust investigation’

Flooding mitigation evidence for Stobhill housing plans is “poor, flawed and lacking in robust investigation”, it has been claimed.

Hepscott Parish Council Chairman Philip Ashmore issued the stark warning at the hearing into an appeal to build 396 homes off Stobhill roundabout, on the edge of Morpeth.

Coun Ashmore, who is a member of the Hepscott and Morpeth Together group fighting the appeal on behalf of residents, told how Hepscott has been severely flooded twice in the last five years, despite measures put in place such as storage ponds and new pipework.

And he said villagers have no confidence in flood risk assessments and mitigation measures proposed by consultants WSP on behalf of appellants Barratt Homes North East and Tees Valley Housing.

“There are no detailed drawings supplied by WSP to give dimensions and volumes of the ponds or swales and no detailed plan. What WSP gives is a so-called Master Plan drawing. This turns out to be an indicative plan of housing mix. It is a plan used by Barratt to show house types, square footage and number of beds,” he said.

Coun Ashmore said the reports are littered with contradictions and errors and lack evidence, while there is little detail.

“The most galling and frustrating issue for the people of Hepscott is the constant referral to promises of work they are going to do, promises for the future,” he said.

“Can I remind the appeal that this is a full planning application, not an outline application?

“Given the flooding history of Hepscott, are we not entitled to robust, detailed proposals now so that they can be scrutinised and understood? It is simply unacceptable to present an error-strewn and contradictory set of documents to this appeal with promises of what is going to happen.”

In his closing statement, Sasha White QC, representing Barratt, said six professional organisations had concluded that the development would be acceptable in flood risk terms and conditions would be attached to any permission to deal with foul water and surface drainage.

“Extensive and comprehensive allegations of harm have been made by the Rule 6 party that the effects of the development will be unacceptable in terms of flooding and ability to deal with foul water. This allegation is completely without foundation,” he said.

“There is simply no informed basis for refusing this consent on this basis.”