Invitation from MP Anne Milton Flood Forum March 22nd


Cranleigh Civic Society will organise microphones and  guides  about the previous stories and vocabulary, and the panel participants’ roles.


A large panel of staff and experts attended MP Anne Milton’s Flood  Forum and gave her answers to questions we all want to know about – some satisfactory, some scary, some truly difficult to take. We heard about the following –

FLOODING DATA –Surrey County Council needs better data on property flooding in Cranleigh, and asked for local assistance to provide information. 

PLANNING  – accumulative effects 

THAKEHAM HOMES” SITE FLOOD RISK  site off Elmbridge Road:   31 May 2018 “Latimer has announced that it will develop 54 new homes in Surrey working with Thakeham Homes. Clarion Housing Group’s private development company has secured the nine acre site in Cranleigh, near Guildford that will deliver 38 homes for private sale, nine homes for shared ownership and seven homes for affordable rent on the land off Elmbridge Road”.

Residents expressed concern before and since the planning application that any work relating to the development of Thakeham Homes could have a knock on effect in terms of flood risks. They do not consider enough account was taken when planning was approved.  Residents want reassurance by Surrey County Council  (SCC) and Environment Agency (EA)  that Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) are checked before, during and after permission to be fit for purpose, and that they and Thames Water respond to planning applications strongly when justified.

Berkeley homes first 55 dwellings are being built – they will exit onto Knowle Lane.  The rest of the Berkeley homes and A2 DominionKnowle Park Initiative (KPI)dwellings will exit onto Alfold Road. KPI – There is some groundwork being done at the Greenhouses site which exits onto Alfold Road and is backed by fishing lake and Wey & Arun Canal section. Little Meadow will also exit onto Alfold Road.  Hewitts Industrial Estate site exits onto the junction between Alfold Road and Elmbridge Road.

NEW HOMES’ INSURANCECranleigh Society reported that the site had been referred via Royal Sun Alliance (RSA)  to the wider insurance industry ahead of the industry’s own flood forum meeting this month (Oct’18).  It was suggested that risk lies with the developer – bearing in mind that if prospective purchasers cannot get insurance, they will not get a mortgage.

There are 14 national standards, but there is dislocated alignment – surface water action management action plan – looking into it with ThakehamNational Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) change places a burden on planning authorities, and Surrey County Council (SCC) to be more joined up – this has improved recently and is now more formalised.  SCC will monitor and will find opportunities to question the new owner –looking for the path of least resistance. CCS photo 2013 – telegraph pole  – there is an OS marker nearby – can easily see the water levels – the SuDS would have been under water.  There is a disconnection between fluvial water (natural water from rivers etc.) and other examinations – across 3 authorities. Where planning approval is for  Under 5 hectares a standard response from the EA is sent – the burden is on the planning officer and they are often not in a good position to deal with it – what is needed is  flood risk conversations with planning officers and they need to be taught  what to look at.

We need to gather  data on properties that have flooded in Cranleigh – 2 way conversation – back fill instances – 

SCC reported that a new standard for SuDs emerged over the summer (2018) which will make sure that Waverley Borough Council (WBC) Planners and Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs  (DEFRA) have to communicate better, and places more burden on the planning and flood authority to work together.   SCC is planning a training scheme with planning officers in all Surrey boroughs, which will need to be repeated to reflect turnover of staff.  MP Anne Milton (AM) suggested that the Thakeham/Clarion site could be a good case study, and there was a need therefore to continue to monitor and support.


There have previously been proposals to move the test sampling site.  It was pointed out that there was a need to test and carry out a fish survey within a time scale, and this was due in 2018.

WATER QUALITY IN CRANLEIGH WATERS – one of our rivers – there are sampling points and records kept to ensure the river water quality is well maintained –  the 5 year intervals for sampling for fish determines whole ecological status of the waters and it is due now – end of 2018.  There is likely to be a spike in phosphates detected near to the outflows of the sewage treatment works.


Waverley Borough Council (WBC) had taken legal advice on its role on water quality.  The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) consider that there is no evidence from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to suggest (a) that fibres are released into the drinking water or (B) that there are dangers from ingestion of blue asbestos fibres.  Sue Pennison of DWI had reported ahead of the meeting:-

“ – Update is that WHO have not yet added asbestos review to their workplan and have not yet confirmed their priorities for the 5th edition of the guidelines but they will be looking into this more formally in 2019.”

There was a request for the DWI evidence as it currently stands. There was concern expressed that, when pipes or water supply are tested, content test does not routinely include white or blue asbestos fibres, and is often carried out after the pipes have been flushed. Testing last year had been reported previously to the Forum, as per this extract from meeting note:

Thames Water (TW) reported sampling pipe material at 5 sites. 

  • Water at 13 sites had been sampled and analysed.
  • At 10 sites there were no fibres, 3 had tested positive for some fibres (2/millilitre at one and 1/millilitre at the others).
  • TW tested under normal conditions to household supply, at the time of a burst and near the burst site, and after a flush of the system.

(By comparison, 1 cubic metre of air contains 10 fibres. Some of these fires would be occurring naturally, and this represents a very low concentration.)  n.b. CCS query this – perhaps it is true where it is found in abundance in the ground – not near Cranleigh!

TW reported that the internal surface of pipes examined after bursts had not degraded at the burst point.  Concern was raised about the degradation causing fibres to leak into water. n.b. no mention has ever been made about the pipes having ever been lined.

Residents said they would like to see the timing of replacement of pipes by TW to coincide with work to supply new housing developments.  There is a pilot in Croydon along these lines.


“ILLEGAL” past DREDGING – Residents raised again the issue of illegal dredging. The forum discussed the “illegal dredging” – conclusion – EA would not have prosecuted.   CCS, Cranleigh Parish Council (CPC)  and others explained the genuine evidence and scale of the work done by residents as the dredging was happening and the reports sent through to EA and others that have since been decided were to be acted upon.  EA stated that they prefer to discuss the future direction in an amicable way with developers and get something from them rather than spend time and money prosecuting. They DO want photographic evidence of any issues and calls to their hotline.  Developers must seek permission before dredging or similar, if they don’t they can be warned and asked to make repairs but not usually done.  SCC representative TOR – explained that enforcement is subjective – section 23 of The Land Drainage Act states that before any dredging takes place the land owner  needs consent – there may be constraints .However if the harm is small and the remedy is expensive it can happen that no action is taken. Bear in mind that maintenance is a statutory duty – so in case law where authorities have taken action is has been found to be not appropriate – it Can cause more damage to put it right.  CCS member – happy to see the dredged area is recovering.  EA talks to the land owners. The EA stated that the alleged work was not sufficient to justify action. For future reference, report any suspected offences to EA, so they can investigate or work with developer for remediation.  The level of action would depend on hydromorphological damage, which is particular to each site.

SCC referred to Section 23 of the Land Drainage Act.  Where work would need consent, the EA or Lead Flood Authority would consider whether remedy would do more harm, whether the work could be considered maintenance or new work, and refer to case law.  EA highlighted the value of projects like Love Your River as an opportunity for local groups to talk to and work with landowners.


Thames Water (TW) report that 5 km of pipe had been targeted for replacement in GU6 areas, of which 3.9 km was in Cranleigh (extended from previously).  More work is planned on The Ridgeway.  Priority has been given to the worst performing pipes.  Burst analysis shows a spike in 2013-14.  Pipe burst rates are back to previous levels (2008) – this is an improvement, but 2008 levels were not acceptable. Cranleigh Parish Council and WaverleyBborough Councillor LIz Townsend said Thames Water had been dealing more quickly with incidents, but there were still too many bursts.  Thames Water’s response has much improved.

Thames Water reported they were continuing to survey underground (thus residents were probably not aware as this was not necessarily visible on the surface) on a ‘find and fix’ basis.


Surrey Wildlife Trust staff are undertaking co-ordination of sampling followed by some excavation work to improve the diversity and flow speeds of the rivers in and around Cranleigh.

Questions for The Flood Forum

Following severe flooding on the 2nd of June 1981, Waverley Borough Council commissioned Consultants Ferguson and McIlveen to investigate the flooding problems and causes within the Cranleigh area.  Their summation extended to five volumes and cost in excess of £50,000. Their report detailed £2.8 million (at 1982 cost) of work that they deemed necessary to prevent further flood problems. This would obviously be a good starting point for the Forum to look at to identify the work that still needs to be carried out.  Have these consultants’ reports been made available to the Flood Forum? A copy of part 3 of the report less the maps is available if required (doc.1)

Are the Flood Forum aware that (to the best of our knowledge)   less than half of the work has been carried out?

We have a list of houses that were affected by the 1981 flooding, totalling 64 houses but we are aware that more were affected that we were not made aware of at the time. (doc.2)

In 2003 following further flooding of our property (2, Overford Close in July 2000) due to backing up of the sewers from ingress of surface water into the sewage system, Thames Water commissioned Halcrow Group Limited to carry out further flood investigations.  A questionnaire was sent to occupiers in Cranleigh to help identify when their property had been flooded .  Thames Water must therefore have the results of these questionnaires and I would like to know if this information has been made available to the Forum. (doc.3)

Waverley BC also produced a report on Cranleigh flooding dated 16th January 1999, has this report been made available?  ( doc 3A)

Are the Forum aware that in 1987 the Local Valuation Court concluded that there were properties in Overford Drive and Overford Close that were still at risk of flooding due to the incomplete flood relief works as outlined by Ferguson and McIlveen   (doc.4).

Can the Forum tell us when the numerous watercourses and culverts were last surveyed and maintained?  Over the years the vegetation has become overgrown and the flow of water has been impeded ?

Are we right in thinking that there is a duty of care by the relevant authorities to ensure that this is maintained and how often should this be done?

Since 2000 have any improvements been made to increase the DWF ( Dry weather flow) capacity of the sewage works off the Elmbridge Road and what is the current DWF processing Rate?

Generally problems with flooding arise in Cranleigh when the surface water gets into the sewage system, causing it to back up. What has been done to stop this happening?

What is the designed  DWF( Dry water flow) capacity of the current STW  in the Elmbridge road?

Trash screens on the entrance to the box culvert at New Park road/Ewhurst road  still seem problematical and block easily, can anything be done to prevent this? (doc 5 Photos available)

All documents referred to available if required”  FROM RESIDENTS OF OVERFORD DRIVE/CLOSE, CRANLEIGH  

DWI‘s comments were based on three test reports referenced in the 1996 WHO report which were carried out on laboratory rats and hamsters, but these tests were done on asbestos contaminants in talcum powder, not asbestos fibres in drinking water.  Crocidolite (blue) asbestos was not tested in any of these three reports, and it is blue asbestos that we are worried about.

If you would like more details why not join us for social evenings on the second Monday in each month from 6.30 pm at the Three Horseshoes Pub.

%d bloggers like this: