Many residents have raised concerns that development was progressing on the Amlets Lane site prior to discharge of pre-commencement planning conditions regarding sewage.
In response to this, two Committee Members of Cranleigh Society visited the site of Amlets Park on 20th January and had a tour of the site and lengthy discussions with the Site Manager and Construction Director.
They confirmed the work they have done so far, as well as work currently being carried out, can be summarised as follows:
The overhead electric cable which crosses the site has been diverted and located underground. This work was undertaken in December.
Jointing works are taking place within the site in January 2017 – extreme weather could delay the work.
Approved tree felling etc to the site frontage in relation to the proposed access (as agreed with WBC’s Tree Officer and in accordance with the approved plans) took place in December.
In relation to the proposed access works they commenced operations in December. However in advance of the S278 works (legal agreement between local highway authority and developer to either pay for, or make alterations or improvements to, the highway) , interim works are due to be carried out over the extent of the area coloured brown on the plan below as well as works to form clear visibility splays explicitly for highway safety.
A S50 licence application, for permission to carry out works to break into the public highway, was submitted to Surrey County Council, in accordance with the S50 Plan. A licence was issued and works have commenced.
Temporary traffic lights are now in operation for the duration of the interim works.
The works include tree and hedge clearance, the laying of a culvert pipe, where the brown coloured access crosses the roadside ditch, the removal of soils to a suitable formation over the extent of the brown area, followed by the placing of Type 1 sub-base and a macadam overlay to form a heavy duty interim access.
We were advised that Cala Homes are fully aware that, when these interim works are completed, they will have to cease work on the site until the Cranleigh Sewage Treatment Works have been upgraded and are “fit for purpose” – that is, they have the capacity to efficiently process not only the sewage from existing properties but also that from new dwellings.
Both the Cranleigh Civic Society and Summerlands Estate Residents Association will continue to liaise with Cala Homes through the Residents Liaison Group and monitor development on the Amlets Park estate.
Since our posting on 30th January 2016 we have been regularly monitoring the movement of the bridge over the Downs Link on Elmbridge Road and liaising with Surrey County Council (SCC).
On 2nd March, Adrian Clarke (Chartered Builder and Committee Member of the Society) revisited the site as one of our members had alerted us to work being carried out. A sub-contractor acting for Surrey County Council was filling in the cracks with a weak mixture of sand and cement. Adrian noted that a crack not yet filled in had bulged more since his previous visit.
Filling cracks with a weak mortar mix is a waste of money – it was purely a cosmetic job to hide a very real problem.
It is our view that the bridge abutments should be renewed now whist the arch is still sound. If Surrey County Council delay this work until one of the abutments completely fails, then the structural arch will tilt and once this happens the whole bridge will have to be demolished and completely rebuilt. This would be both extremely expensive and disruptive to village life for a very long time.
In July, another Cranleigh Society member was studying a Surrey County Council document on Dunsfold Park and was startled to see reference to “Downs Link bridge (which is in need of structural work”. Obviously we drew the Council’s attention to this but they played down its significance.
On 2nd August there was a bridge collapse in Leicestershire – a bridge not dissimilar in design to the Downs Link bridge. This prompted us to research other bridge collapses and our findings were sent to Surrey County Council in the forlorn hope that these failures would spur them into taking our concerns more seriously.
At this point we decided to notify our MP, Anne Milton, of the matter and she is being kept informed of developments.
On 8th August we received an email from Surrey County Council which they hoped “would allay our fears” – it does not! They referred to:
The Council’s “scheduled and ad hoc visual inspections do not indicate there has been movement in the cracks that are visible from ground level” – we say get a ladder! Also, there is no mention of the walls bulging!
The “bridge was strengthened in 2006 ensuring the structure was capable of carrying a 40T full highway loading for single lane traffic” – we want to know why no weight limit has been imposed – also the traffic is controlled by lights and it is quite feasible for a breakdown on the far side of the bridge, or a slow cyclist, to bring a following mini convoy of 40T grab trucks to a halt! Also, nearby Hewitts has just been approved for development – even more HGVs!
“We do not currently have any concerns about the structural integrity of the bridge” – we say that this totally contradicts what Surrey County Council stated in the Dunsfold Park document!
Also in August the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) was published and this includes reference to the Downs Link bridge being rebuilt! We asked Surrey County Council to confirm this is correct but there was no response in their email of 16th November.
That email does refer to “seasonal movement of the wing wall foundations” which we find interesting. Structurally a bridge abutment is designed as a single composite component and if an abutment experiences cracking, then it is no longer acting as a single component – it is now two or more components and engineering performance is obviously compromised. This view is not accepted by Surrey County Council and they insist the bridge is safe – even though the Infrastructure Delivery Plan allows for it to be rebuilt!
Looking at all the photos again, we have noticed that the triangle of bricks within the crack looks different to the other bricks, perhaps suggesting that this section has failed before, was repaired and has failed again? We will investigate!
So this is where we are at right now but Cranleigh Civic Society will continue to monitor the bridge and do everything possible to ensure it is made “fit for purpose” for the traffic demands of the 21st century.
Thames Water have now carried out further investigations into the sewage odour nuisance to the back of Northdowns. They have confirmed that:
“We attended and cut the brambles on 5 January 2017, and uncovered 3 manhole covers. We lifted the covers and camera surveyed the drains, we found there was a mass of roots in the line causing a blockage, stopping wastewater from flowing freely down the drains. This is what was causing the bad smell.
We re-attended on 9 January 2017 and removed all the roots from the line. Once we had done this we camera surveyed the line again and have identified a hole in this section of the drain. We are planning to reline the sewer to repair the defect. We’re in contact with the customer who needs to grant us access and they’re aware of this work.”
We will be continuing to chase Thames Water to ensure that the relining work is carried out.
A resident of Northdowns has confirmed to us that:
“I first reported the ‘pong’ to Thames water on 4th August, and the engineer that came on the 5th said that they needed to clear the brambles. (Others have repeated this since). So it was a full 5 months before they actually did it.
There had, in the mean time, been dozens of phone calls, many visits, with cameras and high pressure hoses (probably involving, hundreds of man hours) as they investigated the main line of the sewer.
When the task of clearing the brambles was eventually undertaken, they found that it was the branch sewer, that was clearly shown on their maps, that joined at the point were the ‘pong’ was, was the source. (Surprise-surprise).
There have been many unfulfilled promises of action and explanation of the reason for the long time involved.
How can Thames Water be expected to cope with a thousand new houses, when a simple job like this is beyond their capabilities.”
As you will know there has been an overwhelming and distressing pong of sewage for some months along the Downslink behind Northdowns, which we have been pressing Thames Water to investigate.
Before Christmas Thames Water confirmed that:
“There are manhole covers, covered in brambles, we’ve been unable to access. We need to cut the brambles away in order to lift the manhole covers to see whether there is an operational issue in this section of the drains. I’ve escalated this job to our contractors, Lanes for Drains and asked them to plan this job in as soon as possible, they’ve assured me this will be done after the Christmas period. I’ve been assured this will be planned in the first week of January. As we’re yet to investigate this stretch of drain, I’m unable to confirm what is causing the smell at present. “
Today a resident reported that contractors are once again working at this location and it is reported that they have now found the illusive manhole cover they have been searching for since October. The reason for the ongoing issue is now being blamed on invasive tree roots, which, if proved to be the case, will mean digging up and replacing the sewer pipework at this point.
We do hope that this situation will be sorted out soon, as the odour nuisance for people living in this location has been considerable.
Please continue to report any incidents of sewage odour, as without your complaints Thames Water will not have an accurate record of the problems in Cranleigh, making it far more difficult to justify allocating resources here.
We have received an update from residents regarding the green belt Stonescapes site on Guildford Road, appeal decision:
“Stonescapes/Tunnel Grab Ltd – Successful opposition to appeal re Operating Centre for up to 10 HGV’s on Guildford Road, Cranleigh
The Decision of the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) on an appeal by Tunnel Grab Ltd in relation to land at Stonescapes/Yew Tree Nurseries, Guildford Road, Cranleigh against the decision of the Traffic Commissioner following a Public Inquiry on 7th April 2016, has just been confirmed.
Local residents, Surrey County Council and Waverley Brough Council (the representors) opposed the appeal and were successful. Accordingly, the appeal did not succeed and the decision of the Traffic Commissioner dated 23rd May 2016 following the Public Inquiry (to refuse the appellant’s application to add a new Operating Centre at Stonescapes/Yew Tree Nurseries for up to 10 HGV’s) stands.
In November 2016, the Upper Tribunal heard arguments from the appellant’s legal representative, local residents and Counsel representing Surrey County Council. The Upper Tribunal’s decision outlines the relevant legal framework, the background to the matter, the Public Inquiry and relevant extracts from the Traffic Commissioner’s original decision. It goes on to consider the various arguments raised by the appellant and on behalf of the representors. The Upper Tribunal concluded that it saw nothing ‘in the grounds of appeal to persuade it to overturn the Commissioner’s decision‘.
It went on to say ‘The basic findings of fact can not be said to be plainly wrong on the evidence before the Commissioner, the law did not require the Commissioner to come to a different conclusion and there is no material error of law in the decision. What is really being challenged is the Commissioner’s judgement and there is no basis for us to interfere with it’.
A full copy of the decision is available if anyone would like to see it – please email and we will try to arrange it.
Tunnel Grab Ltd has a month in which to appeal, if it so chooses to do, but the grounds for any such appeal are extremely limited so hopefully this will be an end to the matter.
It took a lot of work but the successful outcome has made it all worthwhile!”