Flood halts building of 56 houses in Hampsthwaite

Chelo Lloyd in her flooded garden, which backs on to the site of the 56-home development.
Chelo Lloyd in her flooded garden, which backs on to the site of the 56-home development.

Work on a controversial 56-home development in Hampsthwaite was halted after drainage problems caused gardens to flood after a deluge of  rain.

Diggers moved on to the site, next to the village’s Brookfield estate, last week.

But following heavy rain, the gardens of around six properties filled up with water and developers David Wilson Homes were told to stop working until drainage concerns at the site were resolved.

Residents are now demanding to know how this was allowed to happen, as planning conditions specified that work wasn’t supposed to start until drainage plans on the site had been approved.

Hampsthwaite Parish Council chairman David Collett said: “David Wilson Homes now has to discuss with Yorkshire Water a long-term solution. If they can agree on that, work will commence.

“A temporary stop notice has been prepared by Harrogate Borough Council, which will be issued should work start before the drainage problem has been sorted out.

“They were in breach of planning conditions. They should have resolved this matter before they started work and that is why action has been taken. It has always been pointed out that drainage was a major problem on this site, but they just went on site and started digging a road. We will be keeping a close eye on this but they have had a warning shot.”

A week later, dirty water is still polluting two ponds in a garden owned by Brookfield Crescent residents Chelo and Robert Lloyd, and the pair are waiting to find out whether it has harmed wildlife.

A furious Mrs Lloyd said: “We have never had flooding before. We are very upset.”

Mr Lloyd added: “Planning officers who came to site last Wednesday said they had not been presented with any drainage plans and had not therefore approved them. Work stared therefore prior to any approval of these conditions. So we question how and why Harrogate Borough Council has been asleep on the job.”

The council’s cabinet member for planning, Coun Rebecca Burnett, said the authority was doing everything it could to ensure the problem was being addressed.

She said: “Development recently commenced on this site without the pre commencement conditions having been discharged. Council officers acted immediately once this situation was brought to their attention, requesting that the developer cease works on site and requiring them to undertake emergency works to prevent further flooding problems.

"Officers continue to liaise with the developer to ensure that development only recommences once all outstanding issues have been satisfactorily addressed. Should this not occur the council will consider more formal actions to stop works on site.

"We are in conversation with the developers to ensure a long term plan is in place to deal with drainage throughout the course of the development.”

A David Wilson Homes spokesman said the firm had agreed to suspend works to provide a robust solution to prevent future flooding.

He said: “Following a period of heavy rain on February 16, we have conducted temporary works to prevent overland flows of surface water from discharging onto properties to the north of our development.

"Following conversations and site meetings with Harrogate Borough Council enforcement and drainage officers - we have agreed to suspend works other than those necessary to provide a robust solution for dealing with any overland surface water flows. This will ensure we can guard against similar rainfall events that may occur in the future.

"We have been in consultation with the Environment Agency, who have also visited the site and they are content with our actions. In addition, all highway and drainage details have been technically approved by North Yorkshire County Council and Yorkshire Water respectively. It is our aim to deliver quality homes to the area to ensure the local community continues to thrive, we are committed to building homes that will stand the test of time and will continue to work with local representatives and authorities to ensure that our homes adhere to the highest standards."