New homes will ‘reduce water flows into burn’

An engineer has claimed that housing developments on two sites to the north of Morpeth should decrease the amount of run-off water into the Cotting Burn.

The issue was raised during a meeting of Morpeth Town Council’s planning and transport committee by two men who spoke in the public session – Brian Cunningham of Taylor Wimpey and Les Hall, new development manager at Northumbrian Water.

An outline bid for 225 homes on a site at Northgate Hospital was approved by Northumberland County Council three years ago and in July, Taylor Wimpey submitted a full detailed application for what is considered to be surplus land.

Town councillors then raised a number of concerns, including a lack of information on flooding and drainage, access to the properties, the impact on the town’s landscaped approach and transport and a lack of services in the vicinity.

The flooding and drainage issues have been highlighted further by the outline planning approval of Persimmon Homes’ scheme for 255 residential properties on nearby land at Fairmoor three months ago.

One of the key issues raised by those objecting to the proposal, which included residents, councillors and the Morpeth Flood Action Group, was their belief that there would be a surface flow increase into the Cotting Burn.

But Mr Cunningham, senior engineer at Taylor Wimpey, said it was a misconception that new housing development leads to more water going into nearby streams.

“For discharges into water courses, we need to meet the requirements of the Environment Agency,” he added.

“And 99 times out of 100, developers will be asked to make sure their sustainable drainage systems go further than what is set out in the regulations for controlling the amount of surface water run-off.

“This means that if sites are correctly attenuated, there will be less water going into water courses from them during a flood event than before they were developed.”

But Coun David Clark said these comments were “an insult to the intelligence” of him and the people who have been repeatedly flooded from the Cotting Burn in recent years.

With regard to foul water and sewage, Mr Cunningham and Mr Hall said discussions are on-going between Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon and Northumbrian Water about both sites using a single pumping station – a new one is set to be built at the hospital site.

They said they were keen to address the concerns from the town council about the issue and committee members said they were pleased that a joined-up approach was being taken.