Floods and Flushes – About Waste Water Capacity

A 2012 Water Cycle Study commissioned by Uttlesford District Council (Hyder Consulting UK Ltd, section 1.3) shows that Saffron Walden’s water supply will be placed under insurmountable pressure from any proposed development as there is no further ‘process capacity’. Apparently it is ‘Understood that extensive upgrades are required’ in order to support 880 new dwellings, let alone the new proposed Local Plan development sites such as Ridgeons, and any additional business or from increased service users coming into the area.

Water Treatment in Saffron Walden, including Uttlesford Local Plan

Water Treatment in Saffron Walden, including Uttlesford Local Plan

The report recommends [section 13.3] that:

‘UDC should look at the availability of water and wastewater infrastructure as a planning condition, so that planning permission is not granted until developers have consulted…regarding network capacity and possible strategic solutions” .

The report also says that sewerage network upgrades would take 5 years to implement (10 years for a major expansion or new sewerage works) and therefore:

“…development phasing and planned development trajectories to meet Local Plan targets should clearly allow for the lead in time involved in investigating, planning and constructing the required key infrastructure needs”.

This is clearly not the case with regard to deliverability of housing in Saffron Walden where UDC state the 457 of their proposed new houses could be achieved in 1-5 years of their Local Plan (backdated) start date of 2011 (i.e. by 2016). They have not planned for, let alone even started, any new or upgraded sewerage works. So how can new housing be approved for Saffron Walden when UDC already know than new householders won’t be able to flush their toilets for 5 years?

Floods. A bad omen

In February 2014, after weeks of storms, the east of Saffron Walden flooded. The surrounding farmland had become saturated, and with nowhere to go, water ran off the fields and into the storm sewers, which were quickly overwhelmed. But it’s not like it was a surprise – both Hyder Consulting and Anglia Water had both already expressed their concerns about capacity.

Floods by the farmland where Kier are proposing 300 new homes

The floods weren’t caused by a lack of maintenance because in the previous year the council had replaced the culvert on Elizabeth Way, and dredged both the rivers at the bottom of the Common and Bridge End. It was down to surface run off.

Floods on Victoria Avenue, downhill from the proposed Kier development

A car completely submerged on Elizabeth Way near the Persimmon and Countryside developments

The thing is that UDC is proposing to concrete over this same farmland with 1,000 new homes, some of which they have already approved. Once there are new housing estates on the land, there will be nowhere left for rain water to soak into. It will always run off down the storm network. And it is unlikely to need weeks to rain to cause floods, because none of it will soak in.

Map of Storm Network and February 2014 Saffron Walden Floods

Yet again, this is another reason why building on the east of Saffron Walden is such a poor idea.

The Council Are Legally Liable

And who is responsible? Councils can be sued for allowing over development where it causes flooding. There is precedent, and it was set by Ryeford Homes v Sevenoaks District Council (1990), where a claim was made for damages against the planning authority in respect of flooding caused by allowing-over-development. Sound familiar?  This recent letter from the Guardian references some of the cases.

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Posted in News, Planning, Planning Application News, Spotlight Articles, Uttlesford District Council, Uttlesford Local Plan, Water and Sewage
6 comments on “Floods and Flushes – About Waste Water Capacity
  1. Neil Hargreaves says:

    In Newport the Bury Water Lane/Whiteditch Lane developments were given permission despite the committee being shown the flooding beneath the site. The access road has flooded 6 times in 2 years (see photo this week’s Walden Local) The site geology is unsuitable for soakaway (looks like a rice paddy) and the approved OP shows onsite tanks with a mechanical release controlling flow into the river. One big storm, tanks full, overflow will cascade into the river. More flooding for the poor people downstream on Cambridge Rd and Bridge End, and those houses yet to be built on the Carnation Nurseries floodplain

  2. Lynne Blount says:

    I think it is extremely likely that our houses in Horn Book ( we are below the proposed Kier site) will be flooded in future if this development goes ahead. I think we need to ascertain who will be responsible if this should be the case, Uttlesford or the developer? This amount of rainfall will be common in years to come and it is about time we all considered litigation. We cannot just sit and wait for it to happen again. Perhaps the threat of litigation might make them all a little more careful about where they build houses. Can someone can tell me who we could hold responsible in the future, now we know how quickly Radwinter Road and the surrounding areas have flooded this time around? I have lived in this area for 40 years and have never witnessed so much flooding.

  3. Lynne Bloun. says:

    Thank you for this info. Let’s hope the council knows it could be sued. I actually live beneath the proposed Manor Park development, not Kier, as I previously stated. The land is very steep and although they have included some kind of pond and wet beds I fear it won’t be enough.
    My other concern is the seemingly wilful destruction of agricultural land. We are a small island, if development on agricultural land is repeated across the country on such a scale we will end up having to import our food and animal food. So much for our aims of reducing carbon emissions and reducing food costs!

    Thanks for all your hard work.

  4. Amy Corzine says:

    Please have a look at Permaculture ideas regarding water around Saffron Walden. See this video: http://www.permaculture.co.uk/videos/swales-berms-mycelium-edgewood-gardens-permaculture-paradise

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