Villagers unconvinced by developer’s assurances over flood risk of new homes plan

getSURREY

The developers insist they have addressed flooding concerns and state that none of the proposed homes will be in the floodplain

Artist's impression of new homes planned for greenfield land in the centre of Cranleigh
Artist’s impression of new homes planned for greenfield land in the centre of Cranleigh

Berkeley Homes has failed to reassure villagers about the flood risks from the proposed development of 425 homes, according to a parish councillor.

The developers claim they have answered neighbours concerns and that no homes will be built in the flood plain.

The criticism by Ken Reed revolves around a test, set by the government, which looks at the sustainability of development sites. It assesses sites’ risk of flooding and proximity to retail centres.

The test is sequential, ensuring that more sustainable sites are developed first. Cllr Reed argues that the site has not been compared to all the other options in the borough.

“The update sheet circulated included an officer comment on the concern raised by Friends of the Earth that the sequential test was not borough-wide,” he said.

“The officer’s response was that this planning application ‘seeks to address the housing needs of Cranleigh and as such, a more local search area was considered more appropriate’.

“I do not believe this to be the case as the evidence suggests that the lion’s share of the 425 new homes would be to meet the need in a much wider area than Cranleigh.

“Perhaps if they have evidence to substantiate these assertions, they would share it with the rest of us. The local people of Cranleigh are not against appropriate development to meet the needs of the village but are greatly concerned with flood risks in the area of this site.”

In relation to the sequential test, the National Planning Policy Framework states: “Development should not be permitted if there are reasonably available sites appropriate for the proposed development in areas with a lower probability of flooding.”

Matthew Evans, head of planning at Waverley Borough Council, said: “There is justification for applying the area of search for the sequential test across Cranleigh only. This is on the grounds that the draft Waverley strategic housing market assessment, October 2013, should be given weight as it is evidence of housing need.

“This evidence identifies a need for housing in the settlement.”

No increased risk

Berkeley Homes holds that it has addressed flooding concerns and claims that none of the site is within the floodplain.

A spokesperson said: “We are working closely with Surrey County Council to address the technical issue that they have raised. The development of this site will not increase the risk of flooding in Cranleigh and no new homes will be built in the flood plain. Critically, the Environment Agency do not raise objection to the scheme.”

According to the company there will be ‘no change in the rate of surface water run-off from the site as a result of the development and no increase in the risk of flooding off-site’.

It further argues that the development will help reduce the flooding in Alfold Road. Berkeley Homes commissioned an investigation into flooding near Littlemead Brook last winter, which found that ditches beside the road were poorly maintained. The findings were passed to the county council’s highways department.

The developer also asserts that in the event of flooding on surrounding properties, there will be safe routes in and out for pedestrians and motorists.

The proposals by Berkeley Homes are for 425 houses and flats, including 128 affordable homes and associated works. There are also a number of proposed highway and infrastructure developments, including new access points on to Alfold Road and Knowle Lane.