Testing of Cranleigh’s rivers has always taken place occasionally and now Surrey Wildlife Trust is helping to get more testing done and some improvements made.
Chemical levels are measured by groups of volunteers as are the numbers of river fly larvae, which indicate the health levels.
It is a fact that all sewage works clean the water as best they can before letting it go into the rivers. Here are two more facts:
- The levels of chemicals that remain, although allowed by government, are not good for wild life and cause the depletion of fish and their natural foods.
- In a flood situation, foul untreated sewage does come up in people’s homes which is why all the possessions have to be destroyed in the worst cases.
River dipping is a much needed and scientific past-time that some of us have undertaken on everyone’s behalf . We are hunting for river-flies as they are known, the tiny lavae of various species such as cadis fly, which are collected, counted and returned to the rivers. Afterwards the data collected is viewed by experts.
At a recent dip we found just one lava along with shrimps, and so the water is probably not to their liking, too many chemicals from somewhere.
We were dipping near to the back of Cranleigh Golf and Country club.
On Monday the 24th of July, Anne Milton MP organised a meeting at the village hall that she described as a flood forum and it turned out to be much more than that. She brought together Waverley planners, Thames Water, the Environment Agency, the Drinking Water Inspectorate, Public Health England, Surrey County Council, the National Flood Forum, Cranleigh Parish Council and Cranleigh Civic Society to discuss openly several of the major concerns Cranleigh’s residents have raised with her. 65 members of the public came along and several parish and borough councillors also attended.
The plan was to address these concerns and direct them specifically to the authority responsible, so that the answers could be heard by all. We were very happy to hear sewerage problems, flooding and asbestos cement water pipes all discussed openly. It was always understood that the problems would not be resolved then and there but that efforts could be made to address them in the coming weeks and months.
To aid this, small sub committees were formed to work on specific areas and they will report back at the next meeting planned for the autumn. It was just the beginning of what will be a long term effort but a positive step and one that Cranleigh Civic Society welcomes. Members of the Society volunteered to join sub committees and share the information they have collected specific to each area so we will be close to the decision making process.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that new houses should not be built:
- on flood plains
- on other high risk flood areas
- in areas where, if houses are built, it would increase the risk of flooding neighbouring property
Despite this requirement, many homes are being built (or we expect to be built) in such areas – for example:
- Crest Nicholson, betweenHorsham Road and the Downs Link
- Berkeley Homes, south of the High Street
- Little Meadow, east ofAlfold Road
- Thakeham Homes, next to Elmbridge Road – on land that was seriously flooded in January 2015including the pumping station!
- A2 Dominion, Knowle Park – new application expected soon for new houses on the lowest area in Cranleigh!
Cranleigh Society will continue to object to Waverley Borough Council to granting permission to build in these high risk flood areas, and to stop relying on so-called Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) as a guarantee against flooding, which are not always reliable!
FloodRe is a joint insurance industry and Government initiative to enable the owners of homes which have flooded to not only obtain flood insurance but at an affordable price. The problem is that FloodRe can only “come to the rescue” when a house was built before 1st January 2009! This is because, since that date, no houses should have been built in those three areas specified in the NPPF.
People who bought a house built after 1st January 2009 which has subsequently flooded are on their own when trying to renew their insurance. Their house could be uninsurable or, at best, they may have to pay a very expensive premium for cover with a high flood excess.
Until recently, the FloodRe literature did not directly mention that all important date of 1st January 2009 – it merely referred to “qualifying properties” with the reader having to visit their website to see if the house qualified! We found this to be simply unbelievable!
Cranleigh Society tackled FloodRe on this issue and, finally, they did agree to include the cut-off date in all new literature – with no explanation or apology for excluding it in the first place. There are thousands of these leaflets in circulation, and with no print date to help distinguish the correct and incorrect versions, this would of course be misleading for house buyers.
FLOODRE LEAFLET WITH 1 JAN 2009 DATE
We fear that a lot of new Cranleigh residents are in for a rough time after their first experience of several days of incessant heavy rain.
The Amlets Lane application by Cala Homes for 125 dwellings got the final vote of approval at Waverley Borough Council last night by 12 votes to 9. Cranleigh’s Waverley Councillors all voted against the application, however this last minute push was too late to save the site from development.
Liz Townsend spoke on behalf of Summerlands Estate Residents Association and residents of Copse Edge:
We acknowledged that Cala Homes had made some welcome and positive changes to the layout since the application was deferred in September, with a reduction in the height and bulk of the apartment buildings, the positioning of bungalows along Copse Edge and the removal of a parking court.
Residents’ Liaison Group
Residents remain extremely concerned about the access road into the site and the lack of detail regarding the drainage system for surface water run-off. On residents behalf, we requested ongoing involvement in the design of the drainage scheme by sharing local knowledge on flooding. The idea of a liaison group was endorsed by some councillors, and we have emailed Waverley Borough Council today to repeat this request.
To protect the privacy of residents living adjacent to the site, we requested a restriction on permitted development to the roof of any dwelling along the site boundaries, as recently imposed on the Crest Nicholson development on Horsham Road, which was agreed. This means that householders on the Amlets estate will have to apply for planning permission to extend into their roof space.
We also requested details that the buffer zone (shown above) around the edge of the site should be included in the overall management plan for the estate, as there is a risk that it could become overgrown, neglected and unsightly, or encroached on as part of the drainage scheme.
Since the first application, residents have highlighted subsidence issues on Summerlands and the requirement for pile driving on Copse Edge. We expressed surprise that the developers were still recommending concrete strip foundations and maintain that these will not be adequate and the need for deeper foundations could be used as leverage to further reduce the amount of affordable housing on the estate on viability grounds.
We noted with regret, that the proposed tenure split is now to be 50:50 between social rented and shared ownership, rather than, as was agreed at outline, 76% rented and 24% shared ownership. However, Cllrs were unable to discuss this aspect of the application, as the alteration will be by way of a separate variation to the S106 agreement and will be agreed by planning officers under what is called delegated powers. However, we asked Cllrs to honour the original condition as this was one of the main determining points in approving this exceptional green field site.
Sewerage Infrastructure and water Quality
We requested further details from Waverley about the calculation of S106 contributions from the developer for off-site sewage upgrade work, or for water quality mitigation, as required under the Water Framework Directive (WFD), for Cranleigh Waters. We have repeated this request today.
As previously published, considerable expansion work is currently taking place at Cranleigh Sewage Treatment Works in order to accommodate “growth” however the problem surrounding the pumping of increasing amounts of liquid sewage effluent into Cranleigh Waters has not been referred to, or addressed by Waverley.
In response to a meeting on 12 October with Cranleigh Civic Society, Anne Milton and Andrea Leadsom. Defra confirmed that development must not be contrary to the WFD and to paragraph 109 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which states that the planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment. The obligation that Waverley has, to consider WFD when determining local development, has, we believe, not been fully satisfied.
Cranleigh’s Councillors raised lengthy additional comments surrounding road safety, which unfortunately was not one of the reasons for the previous deferral of the application, and although, we firmly agree, extremely important, was all too late to save the Amlets site.
There were further concerns raised about traffic turning out of the estate onto Amlets Lane and the route of construction traffic, suggestions of a one-way system were raised. The Construction Management Plan will ultimately be decided by planning officers, who will we hope take up the suggestion of a further site visit.
We will all need to be vigilant once construction starts on this site and use this road only when necessary and with increased care. Please continue to report any incidents to us firstname.lastname@example.org and send in photos if these can be taken safely.
Good news! On Wednesday night Cala Homes detailed planning application for 125 dwellings on Amlets Lane was deferred!
Members of the Joint Planning Committee 13 to 1 (abstention) disliked the layout, particularly dwellings on the boundary with existing residents. The 3 storey flats came under a barrage of criticism from Councillors, which was hugely welcomed by residents in the gallery.
The vast bulk and appearance of these flats was acknowledged in the planning officers’ report as having “a strong vertical rhythm” and 2.5 storeys high. Residents and Councillors strongly disagreed.
This building is out of character, vast, and most definitely 3 storey and contradicted officers’ claim that they were trying “to retain a rural, countryside feel to the development”.
Other concerns included the parking courts (small car parks), which were not in keeping with the rural location and suffered from a lack of maintenance. Parking spaces, it was generally acknowledged, were better placed adjacent to new properties.
Residents also raised concerns about the lack of any detailed drainage strategy. Cala Homes appeared unaware of Surrey County Council’s comments, published against the application, regarding the positioning of a swale (a drainage ditch and part of the drainage system) on the boundary with Copse Edge, in order to prevent additional flooding to residents there from the site.
It is extremely important that the drainage system is integrated into the design and layout of dwellings on the site, using the natural contours of the site. We cannot understand why so much of the drainage detailed is being left to planning conditions, as this should be an intrinsic part of the design. It is critical that the new development does not cause flooding elsewhere, particularly bearing in mind Cranleigh’s history of groundwater and surface water flooding in this area.
Residents pointed out that dwellings on the east and south east were also to be built less than the recommended 18m distance from the boundary. And whilst it was suggested that the trees would provide some buffer, this would not be the case in autumn and winter.
We continue to have grave concerns about the safety of Amlets Lane for all road users. In a recent traffic count, between 7am and 9am on 12 September 2016, approximately 820 cars travelled along Amlets Lane, and yet again an HGV brought traffic to a standstill due to the narrow width of the road.
A further worry is the fact that an up-to-date plan for construction traffic for the development site has not yet been published. Residents think that this is too important to be left to a planning condition. Road safety should be paramount.
The Cranleigh Society still does not believe that Waverley Borough Council has fulfilled its responsibility regarding water quality in respect of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and Cranleigh Waters, which receives the sewage effluent discharge from Cranleigh Sewage Treatment Works (SWT).
A scoping report for water quality (wbc-high-level-water-cycle-study-wastewater-final-18-august-2016-issuedm) carried out on behalf of Waverley Borough Council in August 2016 highlights the fact that Cranleigh Waters is currently failing in terms of water quality, this status we believe can only worsen with more sewage effluent.
The report highlights the “probable cause of existing failing WFD elements has been attributed to STW effluent, and evidence of deterioration between Cycles 1 and 2 is recorded. Increasing the population equivalent load as a result of the proposed developments would have an adverse impact of the ecological integrity and water quality of the water body.”
Cala Homes were told by Councillors that Amlets Lane “deserves something better”, we think so too. In addition to the style and lyout of dwellings, we also hope that Councillors will raise the important issue of water quality, request details of the critical drainage system, and also the Construction Transport Management Plan, before they grant this application.
We expect this to come before the Planning Committee again some time in November.