Despite Officers “advice” and the Lead group of councillors voting pattern, Flood Risk was accepted as a reason to Refuse building proposals on Canvey last evening.
Local residents were concerned that the proposed development would be an over development of houses on the size of the ex car park site.
This new cautious approach, ahead of the Integrated Urban Drainage study results are published, is to be welcomed by neighbouring dwellers.
The officers paperwork claimed:
“The continued development of Canvey is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement.”
The logic of this dubious statement appears to suggest it is logical to continue to develop Canvey until no further land is available and until which time the local economy will collapse. In contrast residents will have found that they were caused “social and economic blight” by the surface water flooding, much of it due to over development, during 2013 and 2014.
“The second criterion requires that the applicant demonstrates that the development is safe, will not increase flood risk elsewhere and where possible will reduce flood risk overall.”
The Silver Jubilee proposal was accompanied by a flood response Plan which is reliant on occupiers registering with the Environment Agency’s Flood Warning Direct service.
Officers consider the Flood response Plan acceptable to occupiers if a Flood Warning is issued.
However, the Environment Agency accept that in the case of Canvey, the storm event causing flooding in July 2014 was not predictable. Neither would a breach in the sea defences be predictable. Only flooding in the event of over-topping of the sea wall could be predicted in time to release a Flood Warning!
“The Flood Risk Assessment acknowledges the need for the use of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems(SUDS) on the site.”
Whilst the proposal was to involve the change to houses from the current car park, thereby replacing a concreted area with some “limited” permeable garden areas.
The “improvement” in developing a car park site into houses, officers suggested, would cause less surface water flooding.
Our initial thoughts are that, car parks do not create sewage. Sewage that can cause the most damage to property in the event of a flood.
According to the Council Lead group representative for Canvey Winter Garden ward, the system of drainage that the developer may employ is to install underground storage tanks. Most residents will be aware that Canvey land is made up a high level of clay. Canvey is also at, or below sea level, alongside the clay this results in a high water table for most years.
The logic therefore of storage tanks to hold water within a water logged area appears to have little benefit or indeed, logic!
Whilst these points were raised by committee members, tellingly none of the points were either addressed or received satisfactory answers from officers!
The Council Lead group representative for Canvey Winter Garden ward also made a concerning comment that I am certain he would have preferred to have worded better when he considered that the proposal would lead to much needed housing for local people and would not lead to (the development) being “flooded with a bunch of immigrants.”
Taking the “immigrants” reference aside, these are to be market value houses, accordingly, they will be purchased by those able to meet the market price valuation. Other than affordable or social housing schemes I would presume there is no condition to enforce any of the proposed development be set aside for the local population.
The Silver Jubilee proposal was Refused, by the opposition group with the aid of the St Mary’s ward representative’s abstention.
Surface Water Flooding appeared to be somewhat reluctantly accepted as a Reason for Refusal.
Whilst seemingly a good use of a brownfield site, the small step by this committee in Refusing the proposal marks a realision that over development in a Flood Zone is not particularly good planning practice.