Residents voice flood risk fears

CONCERNS have been raised that a new housing estate in Morpeth would increase the risk of flooding.

Tom Smith of the Morpeth Flood Action Group gave a presentation about the issue at a planning inquiry in to a proposal by Bellway to build 200 homes at Loansdean.

Parts of the town have been flooded when the drainage system is unable to cope with the amount of rainfall and by sewage when blockage or overload occurs.

Mr Smith said that new developments north of the River Wansbeck will have their sewage taken directly to new treatment works in Low Stanners, but this would not happen with the Loansdean estate.

“The result of attempting to use the existing sewer network south of the river will be increased spills and pollution for long-suffering town centre residents with associated odour, sewage paddling and health risk problems,” he said.

“The proposed use of the existing sewer is entirely unacceptable and a new sewer must be installed with adequate capacity to end sewage surcharges.

“There will be an added result from restricting water flow into the adjoining farmland proposed for the development, and the Church Burn will receive more water from this source with associated increased flood risk for all properties vulnerable to flooding from the Church Burn until it reaches the River Wansbeck in central Morpeth.”

Further concerns were raised by the Hepscott Flood Action Group.

Chairman Dr Otto Meth-Cohn said that almost £1m has been spent to create a series of leaky ponds to protect the village from flooding, but the impact of the scheme will be significantly reduced if the housing proposal goes ahead.

He said Hepscott already has to cope with run-off from the A1, Stobhill and the railway, and that development of the Loansdean plot will mean even more water going into the over-burdened burns.

“It seems the submission by Bellway does not take account of the serious problems this will create for Hepscott if this development goes ahead,” he said.

Northumberland County Council is looking into surface water issues with Northumbrian Water.

Signet Planning, writing on behalf of Bellway, said it believes the site will meet its surface water run-off requirements and not lead to any increase in the risk of flood elsewhere.

The report states: “A key factor in all developments, particularly on greenfield sites such as the land at South Loansdean, is the need to ensure that surface water run-off from the site does not lead to problems of flooding further downstream. In this regard, the proposed development incorporates a comprehensive sustainable urban drainage scheme, utilising best practice and modern techniques to ensure that the surface water run-off from the site will not exceed the greenfield run-off rate currently achieved.”