Our last Flood Forum update posted here on 18 March was based on an article The Cranleigh Society were asked to provide by the Surrey Advertiser – but it was not published.
The Society was then asked to expand on other real problems being faced by Cranleigh; we obliged by sending the content for a second article and that, also, was not published.
Both articles were 100% factual, so we can only conclude that the Surrey Advertiser did not wish to be controversial.
Pressure can still be put on Waverley…
As mentioned in the website posting on 18 March, AC drinking water pipes and the Thakeham site were the main concerns expressed at the Flood Forum but the bigger picture also needs to be considered. There is a general concern for the number of sites where there are flood issues and/or an over reliance on Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS).
More and more Cranleigh residents are complaining about the ever increasing numbers of grab trucks and other contractor’s vehicles thundering through the High Street. These are causing havoc in the B-roads and narrow lanes, and it is going to get immeasurably worse as the building work intensifies.
These heavy vehicles are causing new potholes to appear daily in the High Street, and cars are being forced up on to paths to avoid wheel and tyre damage.
But Waverley and Surrey County Council do not care.
There are other major problems as well:
- Waverley has pushed 48% of all the new housing in the Local Plan on to sites in and around Cranleigh
- In doing so, they have ignored infrastructure issues.
The Society accepts there is nothing that can be done about the first point. Those planning applications have all received permission, but pressure can still be put on Waverley as regards the infrastructure issues where Cranleigh Civic Society believe Waverley are vulnerable. These are:
1. Flood risk.
2. Asbestos cement pipes.
3. Cranleigh Waters pollution.
Of course, everyone is concerned about roads and bridges too, but these are the responsibility of Surrey County Council, not Waverley.
Naturally prone to flooding…
There is an interesting story emerging about flood risk to which there appears to be no solution, solely because of the actions of Waverley and the inaction of the Environment Agency.
This whole sorry saga began in November 2015 when the owner of the Knowle Park Initiative site dredged a section of Cranleigh Waters, not realising that they needed a permit to do so from the Environment Agency which, incidentally would have been refused.
On site, their contractor told the Society that this was done to “move the flood risk downstream”. The effect of this dredging was to move the flood risk from the KPI site to the area just before the bridge at Elmbridge Road, which at the time was fine as it was just meadowland. The problem is that Thakeham Homes bought the site and, on 5 October 2017, they were granted permission to build 54 houses on it.
KPI knew what would happen by doing this dredging, as it is on their website! They knew that the Thakeham site is “part of the functional flood plain of Cranleigh Waters and is naturally prone to flooding”.
They went on to state; “The main thing is to make sure the drainage and water courses are kept clear (a clear reference here to dredging) to allow these areas (the Thakeham site) to take the water quickly”.
The Thakeham site had serious flooding in December 2013, two years before the dredging – there is now the very real possibility of much higher flood levels, a matter that was totally ignored by Waverley when raised by Cranleigh Civic Society when the application was heard. The Society has a photo of the December 2013 flood level being higher than the site SuDS level, and we know from Met Office Data that they are predicting +30% rainfall during winter months up to 2080. So that is why the Thakeham site is liable to flood.
Reducing, not removing the flood risk…
On 16 March, the Society heard from Surrey Wildlife Trust that the bulk of the funding announced at Anne Milton’s 9th March village meeting is to be spent putting the KPI stretch of Cranleigh Waters back to a two stage river. People may well ask why KPI themselves are not required to bear the cost of the reinstatement to a two stage river – the answer is that the Environment Agency did not act within the time limit of six months from the date of the illegal act, even though Cranleigh Civic Society advised them in January 2016 and the EA visited the site on 29 March 2016. So it appears that public money is now going to be spent correcting the damage done by the KPI dredging!
Was there pressure being put on the Environment Agency to let the KPI planning application go through to help meet Government housing targets? It wasn’t until after the six months statute of limitations period that this all came to light, and the Environment Agency admitted their failure to act.
The problem is that if the KPI stretch of Cranleigh Waters is reinstated to two stage, it reduces (not removes) the flood risk at the Thakeham site and puts a flood risk back onto the KPI site.
What an awful mess – a mess that was totally avoidable if planning was considered on all the facts, good and bad, and not on just chasing housing numbers.
The Society envisages decades of flooding incidents, insurance problems and law suits.
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