Breach of Condition Notice served on Wainhomes

Yesterday, and at the third attempt, East Devon District Council (EDDC) managed to serve a Breach of Condition Notice on Wainhomes for their blatant disregard of the planning condition, placed on them as part of the 2012 appeal decision allowing 50 homes on the site currently under construction at ‘Winchester Park’ in Feniton.

The condition requires installation of two attenuation tanks which are designed to capture the surface water runoff from the site to a level which would be 10% better than is currently seen (see https://susiebond.wordpress.com/2014/09/27/conditions-what-conditions/).

Allotments flooded with silty waterIn other words, the tanks would mitigate the effects of concreting over a greenfield site and give a marginal improvement on the amount of surface water which comes down from the development into the rest of the village.

These conditions are not placed lightly on development.

In this case, given that Feniton has a long and well-documented history of flooding, this particular condition is crucial.

The very robust response by EDDC is to be applauded in the light of cynical indifference on the part of Wainhomes to the plight of the existing community in the village.

This is a reputational issue for both Wainhomes and EDDC. Wainhomes has no option but to comply within the timeframe … if they fail to do so the next step is prosecution. Wainhomes has no right to appeal against the Notice and thence drag the process beyond the 6 week limit. The Planning Enforcement Department will be keeping the pressure up on Wainhomes to force compliance by the end of November … and the village will be holding its breath as the first of the winter storms approaches.

The relevant paragraphs (paras 5 and 6) of the Breach of Condition Notice read:

5. WHAT YOU ARE REQUIRED TO DO
As the person responsible for the breach of the condition specified in paragraph 4 of this notice, you are required to secure compliance with the stated condition by taking the following steps:
(1) A series of 4 surface water attenuation pipes with a capacity of at least 365 cubic metres shall be laid beneath the areas marked “Allotments 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7” as shown on drawing No. DR/103 E. The pipes shall be laid at a depth below ground level to provide at least a 600 mm cover and shall have an internal diameter of 2100 mm. The pipes shall be positioned parallel to each other with a separation distance of 750 mm between them and shall be surrounded by a single size course aggregate bed in accordance with BS EN 13242; Clause 4.3.2. Grading 4/10, 6/14 or 10/20 compacted to a minimum proctor density of 95%. The pipes shall be laid at a gradient of 1:150 falling in a southerly direction and shall be connected to the surface water sewer between manholes S14 and S15 as shown on drawing No. DR/103 E, and
(2) A surface water attenuation tank shall be installed beneath the areas marked “play area” and “allotments 1 to 3” as shown on drawing No. DR/103 E. The tank shall have a capacity of at least 235 cubic metres and shall be positioned at a depth of at least 600 mm beneath ground level. The tank shall be graded and connected to manhole S15 via a surface water drain as shown on drawing No. DR/103 E, and
(3) Connect the surface water attenuation pipes to the surface water attenuation tank with 225mm pipework in accordance with the linkages shown on DR/103 E, and
(4) To connect any occupied buildings via the surface water sewer shown on plans DR/101 D, DR/102 D and DR/103 E into the surface water attenuation pipes installed pursuant to (3) above; and
(5) Join the entire surface water drainage network as set above to the surface water sewer requisition point already installed by South West Water in the south west corner of the site in accordance with the pipe diameters and linkages shown on plan DR/103 E, and
(6) Three swales (or collection trenches) shall be dug in a north–south direction along the full length of the eastern site boundaries. The swales shall be dug to a depth of 500 mm when measured from the highest side of the ditch with a width of 2000 mm at surface level and 300 mm at the base of the ditch. Each swale shall have a bund of 250 mm in height at its highest point and 1000 mm in width with a graded and grassed surface and shall be sited immediately to the west of the swale. All swales shall be set in 1 metre from the site boundary apart from the southernmost section which shall abutt the boundary. The above details are shown on Drawing DR/301 A (Overland Flood Route) 6 Feb 2013.

6. PERIOD FOR COMPLIANCE
All of the steps specified in paragraph 5 above shall be carried out within SIX (6) WEEKS beginning with the day on which this notice is served on you.

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21 Responses to Breach of Condition Notice served on Wainhomes

  1. feuxdusoleil says:

    Hi Susie

    Not many builders, and not the EDDC Building Inspectors, know how attenuation tanks should be installed (viz our experience with the EDDC BI at Sanditon in Sidmouth). If the installations aren’t done correctly, then they rapidly become useless, or even dangerous (because they are in effect a large volume of water probably uphill of some properties – a failure could mean catastrophic inundation). In the attached article from CIRIA on design of attenuation tanks there are two pictures of their failure due to poor installation. It might be worthwhile Feniton employing some expert in this method of surface water management who can work with the EDDC enforcement officer (who is the authority on the adherence to proper design) and the EDDC Building Inspector (who is the ultimate authority on the quality of installation) and Wainhomes contracted out Building Inspectors to ensure that it is done right. Perhaps you could find out which manufacturer Wainhomes iwll be using and ask that firm to work for you as a quality assurance person. Once a tank has failed, you are then into all sorts of legal battles about how to get it fixed. Ultimately, I believe SWW will be responsible for taking over the regular maintenance of the attenuation tanks, but that adoption is some way into the future legally.

    Kind regards

    Jo Frith Flat 4, 6 Fortfield Terrace, Sidmouth EX10 8NT 01395 513205 jo.frith@fortfield.eclipse.co.uk

  2. Pingback: The One Show takes up the story of Wainhomes in Feniton | Susie Bond

  3. Cate Edmonds says:

    Wow thank goodness for that let’s hope that they actually do comply. Having spent a long time with a distraught parishioner and reports of many others who live in constant fear of flooding this, if they comply, may help to ease the problem slightly. All those effected I am sure feel that Wainhomes have no consideration for others in the village and I believe have little consideration for those who have bought houses form them already. We must keep up the pressure and ensure that EDDC do so as well.

  4. Paul says:

    If SWW will be responsible in the future for the maintenance, then it is in their interests to ensure that it is all installed correctly. So I would engage with SWW to provide all the expertise needed, and since they will have the right to refuse to adopt the pipes and tanks if they are not installed correctly, they can probably get Wainhomes to agree to fund their experts too.

  5. Paul says:

    I would imagine the the allotment holders will not be happy about the disruption that this is going to cause to their growing, and that they will want some assurances that their allotments will be put back into a fit state afterwards – including some assurances that the top-soil will be put aside and then put back on top rather than ending up with sub-soil.

    I would assume that WainHomes will need access for this work through Wells Avenue and Coventry Close (apologies if I have this wrong as I am relying on Google Maps rather than local knowledge), and it looks like there might be c. 500 cubic metres of soil to remove from site, and maybe 100-200 cubic metres of top-soil to store somewhere temporarily (and that is quite a big pile of soil!!) so there will be a lot of large lorries and digging equipment etc.

    Then if you consider that the heavy equipment will need more areas to manoeuvre in, I can imagine that the whole of the allotments will be needed for the work – and probably more than just the area of the tank in the play area area – and Wainhomes will need to preserve and reinstate the topsoil for these other areas, so the top-soil to be saved might be (say) 200-400 cubic metres.

    All this will need to be hauled in and out through a residential area, where there are kids, and pets and parked cars, with the possibility of mud being dropped on the roads and being spread around further by other traffic, making the roads slippery etc.

    So all in all, this is a non-trivial amount of work, with the potential for major disruption during the work, some significant safety risks and a risk that it will not be reinstated to its original state properly.

    I would therefore recommend (if it is possible) that the council insist on Wainhomes providing detailed plans of how they intend to undertake this work for their approval in order to ensure that the work is done safely, with the minimum necessary disruption to the community and that it is all finished off properly to leave the site and its surroundings in the same state it is now (but with reduced risk of flooding).

    • susiebond says:

      Thanks, Paul. So far there has been no mention of taking diggers through the existing allotments, but as Wainhomes has thus far been silent on this issue, I have no idea how they intend to put the tanks in. I assume they can use the existing access through their own site.

      • Paul says:

        Ah well, I was relying on Google Maps satellite pictures which are pre-Wainhomes.

        Are we talking about a new set of allotments rather than the original allotments to the East of Coventry Close?

      • susiebond says:

        Yes, the attenuation tanks SHOULD have been installed under the land set aside for allotments on the Wainhomes site immediately adjoining the Parish Council’s play area and existing village allotments.

      • Paul says:

        Oh, so to the East of the Play Area then.

        So hopefully, the new allotments are not yet in use and there will not be disruption to growers.

        However, for the allotments to be useful afterwards, the condition of the top-soil after these works will still be important, the amount of top-soil to be stored and reinstated is probably similar, the amount of sub-soil to be disposed of will be the same, and the risks and disruption to residents will still be there (though perhaps reduced) because traffic still be through a residential area even if it is not Wells Avenue but rather the new Wainhomes houses (which of course according to the planning conditions should still be empty rather than occupied).

  6. Paul says:

    Will Wainhomes be paying compensation to allotment holders for loss of their winter crops, and maybe (but I would imagine less likely) compensation to local residents for the inconvenience they will be causing?

    (If this had been done earlier, the allotment holders could have had some notice of it happening and saved wasted effort in planting etc, and the work could have been done in the dry season – rather than now being done in a hurry in the rainy autumn where the site is likely to become a quagmire and spread mud everywhere.)

    • susiebond says:

      Compensation shouldn’t be necessary if they take the spoil out through their own access. However, you are absolutely right that the earthworks required would have been better done in the dry summer.

  7. Val Jones says:

    Surely there is no question of them going through the allotments and Coventry Close. The tanks are on the Wainhomes side of the existing fence and they will need to do all the work through their own site. The site itself is causing many problems to nearby residents. Louvigny Close has their houses shaking all the time heavy machinery is being used. Everyone surrounding the site has thick dust covering their washing, cars and throughout the house, and for those with breathing problems such as asthma it is a nightmare. To inflict heavy machinery through the rest of Feniton would be wrong and must be resisted by EDDC. Any work must be done through their own building site. Wainhomes should have put these tanks in first before building the houses and avoided all this

    • susiebond says:

      As far as I know, Wainhomes has not put in a request to take spoil through the existing allotments. They have ample access through their own site. See comments from Paul and my responses.

  8. Paul says:

    Since it is obviously much more difficult to add these abatement measures afterwards, it might be reasonable to assume that this is either:

    1. An oversight by Wainhomes who somehow missed that these were required; or

    2. A deliberate attempt to avoid doing this work in the hope that no one would notice until it was too late or that the will to enforce it would not be there or that it would just be seen as too difficult and disruptive to do this afterwards.

    So perhaps compensation should be paid to all the residents whose houses shake, who have dust, dirt and mud covering their property or who are suffering medical issues as a result of the Wainhomes activities.

  9. Val Jones says:

    Wainhomes “oversight” in putting in the tanks is probably due to the fact that they are in the process of putting in another planning application for 31 houses. Some of these will be on the allotment sites (new allotments) that Wainhomes included on the application for 50 houses and in the place where the tank is going. They signed up to a Section 106 agreement at the appeal – the Inspector adjourned the appeal so EDDC and Wainhomes could come to an agreement and part of this was the lease of the land for allotments and community land. Now they want to back out of it and put houses there instead. They think the small print gets them off the hook. The tanks are a planning condition – Wainhomes have no choice in the matter and should be forced to put them in. The provision of the new allotments and community land (which will provide some open space in a very densely built site) should be honoured.

    • Paul says:

      If the soil left on the new allotments is subsoil rather than good quality, original farmland top-soil, presumably no one would want to grow veg there, and they could later use this as a reason to build houses instead.

      But presumably if they put in the tanks and pipes then they definitely can’t build homes on top.

  10. Val Jones says:

    Absolutely right, Paul. That is probably how they are thinking. Hence their reluctance to put in the tanks. Incidentally the soil they are digging up and selling on is rated as the best top soil in East Devon. Ken Barton (Planning Inspector) has a lot to answer for in letting this go ahead.

    • Paul says:

      Someone I discussed this with earlier today who works in the building industry and knows Wainhomes approach suggested that they are likely to try to get a delay and possibly a reversal by making a formal planning application to vary the existing planning conditions.

      • susiebond says:

        East Devon District Council is very firm in its resolve to see the attenuation tanks installed as specified in the Breach of Condition Notice. Wainhomes have until the end of November to comply.

      • Paul says:

        The purpose of my previous post was to warn about what might happen.

        I hope that Wainhomes do just get on with fixing it, and don’t try it on. If they do try it on, then I hope that EDDC maintains its resolve and doesn’t compromise in any way.

        I guess we will know by end of November how this has played out.

  11. Pingback: Patience wears thin as another Breach of Condition Notice is slapped on Wainhomes | Susie Bond

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