Residents' flood-risk fears resurface over new Chorley housing development

A row has broken out over whether a housebuilder can be relied upon to ensure a new estate in Chorley does not pose a flood risk.

Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 8:39 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 8:40 pm

Redrow was granted outline permission last September for what is now a 53-home development between Lucas Lane and Town Lane in Whittle-le-Woods. The approval was subject to conditions meaning the developer will have to demonstrate that it has designed a surface water drainage system capable of coping with a one-in-100-year “critical storm”.

Those plans will be put forward before building begins, but as the application came back before Chorley Council’s planning committee to deal with separate details about the design of the dwellings, locals seized upon the opportunity to revisit their concerns over flooding.

Paul Newall, speaking on behalf of Whittle-le-Woods Residents' Association, said flood mitigation measures on Redrow’s completed Lucas Green development nearby “have not worked well, if at all”.

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Redrow have been given approval for the plot of land in Whittle-le-Woods (image: Google)

“Existing residents were assured that there would be reliable systems to avoid any increase in the flood risk. These included balancing ponds, expected to capture and control surface water run-off,” Mr. Newall explained.

“But during heavy periods of rain, gardens are being eroded and flooded. For these reasons, residents are suspicious that a similar attenuation system at the [new] site...may not be entirely effective.”

Redrow has told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it has never received reports of flooding at its previous Whittle development.

The residents' association also commissioned a hydrology consultant to assess the flood risk report presented by Redrow for its latest site. That concluded that the surface water flooding risk had not been “adequately addressed”.

But the company which compiled the report for Redrow rubbished that claim. The committee was presented with a statement from Waterco which said that although the wider Whittle area had experienced flooding, records showed “no historical flooding had affected the [Lucas Lane] site”.

It added that the drainage plans were designed to mimic or even reduce existing water run-off rates from the current greenfield plot, so that “there should be no adverse effects downstream”.

Responding to concerns that residents would be “cut out” of the next stage of the flood assessment process when Redrow’s plans are presented for final approval to Chorley Council officers, the authority’s planning services manager, Adele Hayes, said that the relevant matters would be discharged in “the public domain” - with an opportunity for locals to comment. However, the issue will not return to the plannign committee unless members opt to "call-in" the plans.

Following the meeting, Craig Ward, technical director for Redrow Homes (Lancashire), said: “We understand the concern of local residents, but all flood mitigation measures for our proposed new development in Whittle-le-Woods were presented at the outline planning stage, with support from the Lead Local Flood Authority [Lancashire County Council].

“We will agree all measures with the regulators and implement them in full accordance with the planning approval. Once complete, the development will not contribute any further surface water to the system than is currently experienced and, in addition, measures will be put in place to store surface water during periods of above average rainfall so it can be released at a restricted rate.

“We believe that flood prevention measures implemented at our previous Lucas Green development have been effective and, certainly, we have not received any reports of flooding at that development.”

The planning committee approved the ‘reserved matters’ relating to the design and layout of the new development - which included a reduction in the overall number of properties from the 83 originally planned. Members heard that there were a number of “constraints” in developing the site - including its topography and measures to mitigate noise from the nearby M61 motorway.