Water, water, everywhere … here we go again!

Flooding in Station Road, New Year 2016

Flooding in Station Road, New Year 2016

2016 came in with the roar of a rather soggy lion right across the country. The terrible floods affecting the north of England have led me to reflect on the similar problems that Feniton has suffered over the years. When floods strike I’ve come to realise that one becomes very introspective, but what concerns me most is what happened in Feniton.

The New Year was greeted in Feniton by torrents of surface water coming off the fields and it was a real test of the various measures put in place around the village.

The results were mixed.

DSC_0055Phase 1 of the £1.6m flood alleviation scheme is virtually complete and water bypassed the two listed cottages at the entrance of the new village. Residents of Metcombe and Sweethams – who have suffered countless times over the years – were able to relax, although there was concern when the water rose to levels which looked like it would back up the pipe towards the cottages. In true community spirit, the residents of Sweethams are our latest volunteer flood wardens, as they now feel safe to leave their cottage at times of heavy rain.

Equally, the pipes which have been installed in Salisbury Avenue meant that bungalows built below the level of the road are now safe from flooding. Such a relief for residents there.

Vine Water, Feniton

Vine Water, Feniton

The hard work of flood wardens in the old part of the village, and the fact that drains had been recently cleared by Devon County Council, meant that only one cottage flooded there. It could have been so much worse.



Less successful was the works carried out by Wainhomes on the Winchester Park site.

Play area flooded again, 30 December 2015

Play area flooded again, 30 December 2015

Surface water poured around the attenuation tanks, straight into the Parish Council play area. The special surface under the swings is now full of silt and will have to be cleaned again (I’ve lost track of how many times this has had to be done and at what cost to the public purse). From there, it flooded the allotments (again) and poured under the gates into the drains. With a night of rain ahead, the flood wardens were out in force to slow the rate of flow such that the drains would be able to cope.

It was cold, miserable work.

Water pouring off the allotments, 30 December 2015

Water pouring off the allotments, 30 December 2015

The frustrating thing is that this is still happening at all, even after Wainhomes has built the 50 houses they were allowed. As is well known, Wainhomes failed initially to install attenuation tanks to help mitigate surface water run-off from their site. Another measure was for them to install swales – a system of ditches between the estate and the adjoining agricultural fields – to help store surface water.

When flood wardens and I looked at the swales over New Year to see how well they were coping, to our amazement they were virtually empty.

Were the swales built according to the specifications drawn up by Wainhomes’ consultants? Or is the design of the surface water drainage system substandard, as Feniton Parish Council suspects?

Breach in bank between Station Road and Winchester Park

Breach in bank between Station Road and Winchester Park

Either way we were amazed to see that the new bank between Station Road and the open space vacated by the temporary site office has been deliberately breached.


This irresponsible action has resulted in water being allowed to pour from the site down Station Road towards houses which have a long history of flooding.
Breach in bank between Station Road and WH siteAs the Parish Council has long demanded, the whole surface water drainage system on Winchester Park will need to be looked at very carefully indeed.

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11 Responses to Water, water, everywhere … here we go again!

  1. Pingback: Feniton: a tale of two flood relief systems where Wainhomes comes bottom | East Devon Watch

    • susiebond says:

      It’s difficult to keep up with what’s been happening with this particular site, but the rate at which the water has poured through the Parish Council’s play area has been a considerable cause for concern. There’s been a lot of work going on behind the scenes, not least EDDC’s enforcement of the condition which (finally) made Wainhomes install the attenuation tanks. I’m working hard with EDDC to get the right solution to a less than ideal situation. If Wainhomes had complied with the conditions as stipulated by the planning inspector when he allowed the appeal, we would all be in a much happier position.

  2. Sue Collins says:

    Why are wainhomes continually allowed to get away with everything?

  3. Peter Bending says:

    If the swales were empty does this mean that they emptied into the play area without storing any? They are clearly not connected to anything. We always knew Shamehomes never had any morals and given that they are ignoring enforcement orders we must assume they also have no intention of doing anything else on this site. (until,of course,they get permission for more houses). Would it be of any help if we inundated the enforcement officer with e-mails asking what action he was taking?
    PS Really good news about The Metcombe cottages. This ditch clearly seen to be working.

    • susiebond says:

      To be honest, Peter, we were squelching around very muddy ground with head torches looking down into the swales, so it was difficult to see where the water was going. I’ll be working with the officers at EDDC to try and resolve this (so no need to bombard anyone with emails!). I really don’t want to spend any more time trudging around in the pouring rain with the other flood wardens worrying about the village!

  4. Val Jones says:

    Pete, there is one ditch (let’s call it a ditch because that’s what it is) that goes around the Wainhomes site to protect that site from flood water. The open ditch directs the flow of water down towards the play area and allotments. Add to this the water flowing in a stream (a stream which according to older people in Feniton flows from a spring at the top of the fields) straight down into the play area. This is where the water comes from and why the allotments flood. If EDDC had insisted on Wainhomes complying with condition 8 (landscaping) the area would have been grassed, planted and have trees which would have absorbed some water although it’s doubtful whether it would have stopped the flooding, though it would have kept the silt from coming off the field into the drains. It’s obvious too that the attenuation tanks aren’t working but from what I remember they were put in after Wainhomes were forced to, put in a different place to where the plans showed and were of smaller capacity.

    • susiebond says:

      The attenuation tanks are to collect the surface water from Winchester Park (with a 10% betterment over greenfield conditions), not the field above. The swales are definitely a cause for concern and are being looked into. Landscaping is intrinsically tied up with provision of play space and is the subject of current discussion.

  5. Anthony Harper says:

    Presumably you have asked this same question, but do you know why EDDC will not take enforcement action against Wainhomes in respect of planning condition 8 regarding landscaping. I have emailed and telephoned the relevant contact at EDDC countless times since April 2014 and have had no satisfactory explanation. Also, are the attenuation tanks a temporary measure until the Flood Alleviation Scheme is completed? Thank you

    • susiebond says:

      This is on the agenda for Feniton Parish Council meeting on Monday evening, where there is usually a full and robust discussion on the subject.

      Basically, the play area and landscaping are part of the same ‘package’. How Wainhomes intends to comply with its obligation to provide the LEAP is currently under discussion. To be policy-compliant, they can either provide the land as per the original plans complete with play equipment or, and this is what they would like to do, provide £35,000 to Feniton Parish Council for provision of more equipment on the PC-owned play area at the QEII. They would have to provide a pedestrian gate so that residents of Winchester Park can access the play area easily. The obvious place for this is through the Parish Council-owned fencing at the point where the play area was to have been on the Winchester Park site. The rest of Winchester Park would be landscaped according to the landscaping scheme provided by Wainhomes at the insistence of planners at EDDC.

      The ball is currently in Wainhomes’ court as they will need to secure the permission of the Parish Council and, as far as I know, have not yet been in contact.

      The attenuation tanks are provided as a permanent solution to surface water run-off from the Winchester Park site only … not the field above. There is concern about the attenuation tanks, the largest of which will eventually be adopted by SWW. There is also considerable concern about the swales which has been raised as a concern by planners in their talks with Wainhomes.

      Hope this covers everything. As said, the Parish Council is the forum for full discussion.

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