Wainhomes appear to have a blatant disregard for the conditions placed on them by Planning Inspector, Ken Barton, when he allowed the appeal for the 50 houses currently under construction.
Possibly the most serious of the conditions was that no houses should be occupied until adequate measures to cope with surface water were put in place (see https://susiebond.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/an-apology/).
As a result of their admission that they had not complied with this condition, EDDC’s Planning Enforcement Officer has written to Wainhomes and they have been given 14 days to respond.
This set me wondering about the other 11 conditions placed on development at Winchester Park. These conditions are not something the developer can decide to ignore. The conditions are placed on a development to make it acceptable in planning terms.
The site behind Louvigny Close was never considered the ideal place to build, given the inadequacy of the infrastructure in Feniton, given the frequency of flooding and given the woeful state of the foul water network.
Another very important condition, therefore, was that no houses should be occupied until improvements had been put in place to the foul water network. The condition reads: (12) No building hereby permitted shall be occupied until works to improve the foul sewerage network to enable it to cope with the flows from the proposed development have been completed.
The works to increase the capacity of the pumping station on Ottery Road are not yet complete, but not only have 6 houses been occupied … more apparently have been sold and are awaiting the arrival of their excited new owners, owners who will be unaware that they will be adding to Feniton’s sewerage and drainage problems.
I emailed South West Water (SWW) to ask if they had talked to Wainhomes, e.g. to let them off condition 12. The response from SWW left me reeling. Only a week ago the flood wardens were out in force in the village, the entire surface and foul water network was utterly overwhelmed and once again properties were flooded out with raw sewage. Does SWW care? Seemingly not. The response by Jay Harris — Waste Water Services: Operations Manager (East) – to my question about Wainhomes was:
The work to provide additional storage at Sidmouth Junction SPS is programmed for completion by mid January 2015. We have not been approached by Wainhomes regarding the occupation of properties but consider the connection of 6 dwellings, discharging foul flow only, will not have any effect on the sewerage network as the SPS improvements are well in hand.
So, we learned recently that Wainhomes cynically couldn’t be bothered to build the attenuation tanks to relieve flooding and which were a condition of people moving in. Now we learn that cynically they are adding to the flows in the village but SWW doesn’t care.
When is Enough, Enough? How many more of the 50 houses Wainhomes is building will be occupied until Mr Harris thinks he might have to sit up and take notice, I wonder? Sewage is already spewing from the drains into open ditches and along the road in the new village. It all makes it way down to the old village and onwards to the sewage works at Buckerell Cross. Along the way, the combined surface and foul water network is forced from the drain in a toxic plume, and from there it contaminates the Vine Water which runs alongside the road.
So, to recap, we are faced with a developer who thinks that planning conditions to safeguard local communities don’t apply to them, and a water company which would appear, to put it mildly, to be complacent about its legal responsibilities to its customers.
The task of checking that everything is in order on the site has been contracted by Wainhomes to NHBC Building Control. Concerned that Wainhomes has been ignoring its obligations in the pursuit of a quick buck, and that the attenuation tanks it is required to install have yet to be put in place, I had a lengthy conversation with them yesterday. NHBC Building Control could not even find a site for 50 homes in Feniton on their books!
The non-technical member of staff with whom I spoke has promised to get back to me. She was very surprised that any houses have been occupied before checks on them have been undertaken.
While NHBC may be guilty of no more than an administrative error, Wainhomes has claimed previously on my blog that it is a “responsible developer”. A responsible developer would not be ignoring the conditions imposed on it by the Planning Inspectorate and putting Feniton at risk as a result. A responsible developer would also be liaising with NHBC Building Control. Come to that, a responsible South West Water would not be letting Wainhomes get away with all this …
I will update my blog as I learn more, but in the meantime I am raising my concerns with MP Neil Parish.