An Apology

We are living in extraordinary times.

As I sit here, thunder is crashing overhead, the noise interspersed with ominous flashes of lightning and rain is pouring down the window.

As one of the flood wardens in the village, I had begun to relax. We have a rain intensity alarm in place which will soon give us more accurate flood alerts, the implementation of which has only been delayed by the need to calibrate it, for which we need rain.

Another source of comfort, although only a small one, was that concreting over part of the field above Louvigny Close was going to be mitigated by installation of attenuation tanks … masses of them … the two largest of which were designed to give betterment of 10% over the previous runoff from the site.

There were a number of conditions placed on Wainhomes when they won the appeal to build 50 houses currently under construction.

The conditions are explicit and unambiguous, but there is one which is of particular interest:

6) No building hereby permitted shall be occupied until surface water drainage works have been implemented in accordance with details that have been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. These details shall ensure a betterment in accordance with the submitted Flood Risk Assessment and drawing 1495/PDL/01B. Before these details are submitted a further assessment shall be carried out of the potential for the disposal of surface water by means of a sustainable drainage system and the results of the assessment provided to the local planning authority. Where a sustainable drainage scheme is to be provided the submitted details shall;
a) provide information about the design storm period and intensity, the method employed to delay and control the surface water discharged from the site and the measure taken to prevent pollution of the receiving groundwater and/or surface waters;
b) include a timetable for its implementation; and
c) provide a management and maintenance plan for the lifetime of the development which shall include the arrangements for adoption by any public authority or statutory undertaker and any other arrangements to secure the operation of the scheme throughout its lifetime.

Residents have been contacting me for some time telling me that Wainhomes hadn’t complied with the requirement to install the largest attenuation tanks before allowing the new houses to be occupied (currently six of them).

In hindsight, my standard response was rather patronising (hence the title of this blog). It is a condition of the appeal decision with which Wainhomes have to comply. It is unthinkable that any developer would seek to ignore such a clear instruction from a Planning Inspector in a village so severely prone to flooding.

Water poured off the Wainhomes site this morning, gushed through the allotments and flooded roads and gardens in the centre of the village.

Water pouring off the Wainhomes site into the village play area

Water pouring off the Wainhomes site into the village play area

Residents, as resilient as ever, were out in force, putting up flood boards and doing their best to keep the drains running freely. But again, the only thing which prevented widespread flooding was our good friend Luck … the rain stopped long enough for the drains to cope.

The issue of non-compliance on the part of Wainhomes is now a planning enforcement issue (ref. 14/F0624).

There are 12 conditions on the schedule attached to the appeal decision. Each one should now be scrutinised to make sure that Wainhomes is complying.

It appears that we cannot rely on Trust.

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13 Responses to An Apology

  1. Pamela Valentine says:

    Thanks Susie, I did ask at a PC meeting early in the year if anyone had seen these tanks go in as the pipes were being done for the connections. This last storm water went down Alan’s drive and into the garage. If water comes into my home again I will be looking for compensation from enviroment agency and East Devon as they do not appear to listen to the residents or help us in preventative measures.

    • susiebond says:

      Thanks Pam. It’s all very depressing, isn’t it?

      The Environment Agency and EDDC are working so hard on the flood scheme and meet more problems than you could possibly imagine. There is massive determination to see the scheme installed as quickly as possible. There just seem to be so many hoops to jump through and meanwhile we are all on tenterhooks.

  2. Val Jones says:

    What is Wainhomes reason for not putting in the attenuation tanks. Do they think they don’t have to and that the conditions of the appeal don’t apply to them. EDDC need to enforce it now.

    • susiebond says:

      Good question, Val.

      I have no idea why they weren’t put in. Perhaps they will let everyone know why a village which floods might not need them.

      EDDC’s excellent Planning Enforcement Department is on the case (14/F0624). After a day like today, with three properties flooded, I’m afraid I have lost my sense of humour.

  3. After a day like yesterday (19th Sept) trying to stop flood water entering into houses that have already been flooded on many occasions and numerous close calls in between I am angry that Wainhomes think they are above the Planning Regulations and totally disregarded what the Planning Inspector said at the appeal.
    Yet again water poured off the Wainhomes site flooding gardens and garages and just inches from entering homes lower down. Wainhomes have clearly not complied with the appeal conditions and have 6 houses occupied and no attenuation tanks put in! I would like to ask some questions…… if residents’ houses are flooded in the meantime who is liable? Where do I stand with my Insurance and can the residents sue Wainhomes? I think if the answer is yes there will be a queue!!
    Oh and the play area that has just been pressure washed after the last flood needs to be done again! Who is going to foot that bill?

  4. Peter Bending says:

    In all honesty I wasn’t aware of the allotments being flooded. Mine is one that does suffer and I did not see any evidence that flooding had occurred there, however, I think the large earthbank on the Wainhomes site probably prevented some run off. The field above the site has once again been planted with maize thus adding to the compaction of the soil and therefore, further reducing the absorption of rain water. My neighbors and I had water pouring into our garages, this being the first time this has happened, The road filled up rapidly and flowed down the drives, the volume of water overwhelming the drains suggesting either, the drains are partially blocked or the bore is no way big enough.
    I have said from the outset that I did not believe Wainhomes would put in the tanks once they lost the appeal and regardless of planning conditions I still don’t think they will. Enforcement from EDDC is weak (just ask ex Cllr Brown). It should have been a condition that they had to be installed before any work commenced. When the site is finished if we have further storms like Friday the water from the field will run straight through the new houses nearest to Warwick Close

    • susiebond says:

      Thanks Peter. Coventry Close had water pouring down it from the WH site and through the children’s play area. Judging by the amount of silt in the gully across the entrance to the allotment car park, the water came straight down through the parking area. When I got there, the main problem was Salisbury Avenue and Salisbury Close. Ottery Road had water gushing out of the drains and then, of course, Metcombe and Sweethams take the full force of the water. A truly dreadful day!

  5. Val Jones says:

    And Wainhomes are intending to apply for more. Their plans are to build on the allotments (they promised), the community hall site (they promised) and part of the appeal site that was refused in April this year. They have been talking to EDDC in pre-application discussions. Why do EDDC even talk to them about more houses, when they don’t even comply with the conditions on the approval they got. Shame on Ken Barton (Planning Inspector) for allowing them to build in the first place. It’s the residents of Feniton that are suffering.

  6. chrisbbbbb says:

    I believe another demonstration targeted at Wainhomes and their lack of regard for the planning Officer’s decisions should be staged.
    This might start the authorities stopping this company allowing any more of their homes to be occupied before the attenuation tanks are installed and operating efficiently.

  7. Gill Ewings says:

    While the village gets deluged with water/mud we at Metcombe and Sweethams Cottages get not only the water and lots of it but the residents of Fenitons sewage too! and now we get not only more run offf from Wainhomes but 6 (and rising) more houses worth of sewage! Wainhomes should be forced to Pay for the relocation of these 6 families until the attenuation ponds and all other conditions are met and ticked off by EDDC! Oh and EDDC have issued non compliance notices well where were EDDCs officers who should have been overseeing and ensuring these conditions were complied with? Time for a vote of NO CONFIDENCE IN EDDC!

  8. feuxdusoleil says:

    In Sidmouth we have also fought long, strong battles about the installation of attenuation tanks on a neighbouring site. It may be worthwhile sharing some of our experiences with you about SUDS drainage. Firstly, the Building Inspectors at EDDC stated to us that they do not normally inspect SUDS drainage for planning compliance and for installation in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions. They have a legal duty to ensure that the surface water drainage is installed properly and in such a way that it does not threaten other properties with flooding.Their attitude is pretty old-fashioned and based upon the view that rainwater drainage just goes into gutters and down-pipes and can then be forgotten. It shocked us because the attenuation tank systems only work to stop flooding downhill from the site if they are properly installed. We photographed ours being improperly installed and forced the Building Inspectors to make the contractor remove the work already done and correct the installation. The Planning Officer supported us in this battle but the Building Inspectors didn’t even come to the site meetings about it. Secondly Devon County Council are the legal authority who should comment on and approve any SUDS scheme proposed in a planning application. but as of 12 months ago they had not appointed anyone to take on this role. Thirdly attenuation tanks and hydraulic brakes are only effective over time if they are subject to the manufacturers’ recommended maintenance schedule. This is generally a six-monthly clean out of debris. This should be part of the handover manual from the developer to the homeowners. But in our case this hasn’t been done as a handover so we are under threat of the failure of our neighbouring attenuation tanks because we are downhill from them. We used some pretty impressive photos of failures of attenuation tanks to support our arguments in our battles. They included a photo of a car park with a 3m deep hole about 30 m diameter where the car park has subsided and cars are in the bottom of the hole.

  9. feuxdusoleil says:

    I should have added to my earlier comment that you can read about the DCC SUDS work at and it is also worthwhile following their link in that page to their DCC SUDS Guidance. I have just checked elsewhere on the web and it appears that DEFRA have now delayed the implementation of the formal procedures for SUDS Approval Bodies (that will be DCC for us). Some say the delay is from October 2014 (which was itself a delayed date) until April 2015. Others say the delay is now indefinite.

  10. Pingback: Conditions? What conditions? | Susie Bond

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