Slap on wrist for housing developer

The devastation in Whalley following the Boxing Day floods of 2015.
The devastation in Whalley following the Boxing Day floods of 2015.

Action could be taken against a housing developer which has built homes on land relatively close to a high risk flood area without completing the necessary flood prevention works prior to the properties being sold and occupied.

Ribble Valley Borough Council has served a breach of condition notice on Redrow Homes after the housing developer failed to comply with the conditions of its planning consent which prevented occupancy of houses on its Lawson Rise site until attenuation ponds are constructed.

Attenuation ponds are designed to slow the passage of water from surface run-off and ease the pressure on the ground drainage system.

Hundreds of homes and businesses were flooded out in both Whalley and Billington after torrential rain caused the River Calder to burst its banks the day after Boxing Day in 2015.

Two weeks prior, on December 12th, and again after torrential rain, the village centre suffered bad flooding following a King Street culvert failure which takes surface water from streams off Wiswell Moor.

Following the worst flooding both villages had seen in 50 years, a company known as the Whalley and Billington Flood Action Group, was formed to ensure better protection and more resilience to any future flooding.

However, on November 21st, Whalley residents once again suffered flooding from Wiswell Moor catchment area rainfall following not more than a day’s worth of particularly heavy rainfall.

Since this most recent flooding, Andrew Ronnan, director of Whalley and Billington FLAG, and Diane Williams, the daughter of a 91-year-old Whalley resident whose life was turned upside down by the 2015 Boxing Day floods, have been searching for answers for the cause of this most recent flooding.

They have been asking various authorities what has happened since the start of 2016 in terms of complete investigations into water drainage around and within the village, and what proposals are being implemented to improve any more urgent at risk areas.

Referring to the Lawson Rise site, Mr Ronnan said: “Having an unauthorised 150mm surface water drain pipe straight into Wiswell Brook that then makes its way into the infamous King Street culvert and no attenuation ponds in sight, never mind in place, with flood water on November 21st soaking into the land immediately above the 10 bar pressurised Haweswater to Manchester aqueduct as well is something we simply cannot ignore.”

The action group and Mrs Williams are now hoping Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans can apply pressure to ensure flooding, similar to that which occurred in November, will not happen again.

Steve Greenhalgh, managing director of Redrow Homes (Lancashire), said: “We are committed to resolving this situation as soon as possible and have been cooperating fully with the council and the lead flood authority with regard to the provision of surface water flood prevention measures to this development.

“Unfortunately provision of the surface water attenuation pond has been delayed due to unforeseen ground conditions and delays in obtaining planning permission. These further works are however programmed to commence in the spring and to be completed by the summer.

“The absence of the attenuation pond has not lead to, or exacerbated, the floods experienced in Whalley following Boxing Day in 2015, or more recently in December.”

A Ribble Valley Borough Council spokesman said: “The council has been working with Redrow and other agencies to support the delivery of the attenuation pond and will continue to do so.

“I can confirm that a breach of condition notice has been served.”