Sidmothians balk at contributing £3 m to flood defences: EDDC accused of “fiddling while Rome burned”

Local people and businesses in a coastal Devon town are being asked to help pay towards the cost of a new £9m flood defence scheme.

Sidmouth’s eastern cliffs, which protect the town from flooding, are vulnerable and eroding at the rate of about a metre a year.

East Devon District Council is asking locals and businesses to contribute £3m towards the project.

But many locals do not see why they should pay, and are accusing the council of having wasted time and money over the last decade, “fiddling while Rome burns”.

[EDDC response:]

“East Devon District Council is completely committed to this project. We have already invested over £500,000 of our own money into the research, investigations and all the other necessary work that is done. If we can find another £3m, we can then unlock funding just under £6m from Defra, who are the primary agency concerned with flood protection.”
Tom Wright
Environment Porfolio, East Devon District Council

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-43712628

New Knowle owners will benefit from £750,000 taxpayer-funded flood prevention scheme

“The first phase of the project will include drainage improvements, followed by the installation of a massive water storage tank at Knowle.

Funding to the tune of £750,000 has now been secured after a 2013 report found that Sidmouth has a history of flooding, both from rivers and surface water. …

Mr Hughes added: “It is hoped that the surface water drainage improvements can 
be delivered during 2018/19 and storage at the Knowle – which will be subject to landowner agreement and planning approval – to be created in the latter stages of 2019/20. …”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/750k-secured-to-protect-sidmouth-properties-from-flooding-1-5418416

Anyone else underwhelmed by Exmouth’s watersports centre?

And wouldn’t you think the safety changes might have been foreseen?

“Peter Quincey, director of Grenadier Estates, said: “Following our community consultation and the feedback received, we have focused on water safety in consultation with East Devon District Council and have made amendments to the design.

“The amendments to the design include setting the building back by four metres to allow a more substantial space between the building and the sea wall, and increasing the rigging areas to accommodate additional water sports equipment.

“To improve the visual appeal of the building further, we have included additional stone cladding and designated more space for planting trees.

“These additions have resulted in a reduction of 14 parking spaces.”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/grenadier-estates-statement-watersports-centre-application-1-5397490

More storms, more floods

“Homeowners in the South West are being warned intense bouts of flooding are set to become more frequent.

The Environment Agency has launched the Flood Action Campaign to raise awareness.

Younger people are being encouraged to check flood risks as research shows 18 to 34 year olds are at the highest risk of fatality due to being less likely to perceive personal risk, the agency said.

Met Office records show intense storms are becoming more frequent, sea levels are rising, and since 1910 there have been 17 record breaking rainfall months or seasons – with nine since 2000.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-42892693

Update on Winslade Park (Clyst St Mary) planning application

PRESS RELEASE

“I have been advised that the planning application for Winslade Park, Clyst St Mary has been removed from the agenda for 31st October. This request was made by the owners of the site to East Devon District Council and came about as a result of the concerns made by the residents of Clyst St Mary.

At this stage, we don’t yet know if or when the application will go back on the agenda.

The Save Clyst St Mary group remains committed to ensuring East Devon District Council and the Applicant reach the right decision for our village with regard to this application. Any proposal should be both safe and sustainable.

On a different note, the planning application for Enfield Farm is still on the agenda and should be heard by the Devolopment Management Committee in the afternoon of 31st October. We have two residents speaking for us on Tuesday; should you wish to support them please feel free to do so.

On behalf of the SCSM team, please can I thank you all for your ongoing support over these past three years.”

EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL PLANNERS RECOMMEND DEVELOPMENT ON HIGH RISK FLOOD ZONES AT WINSLADE PARK

PRESS RELEASE

[Here’s a summary of recent developments regarding local planning applications which are likely to affect village residents. As you will see, things are once again starting to ‘move’ and we will endeavour toi keep you updated on decisions and outcomes if and when they occur. We are aware that since the Save Clyst St Mary campaign was first launched, nearly four years ago, a number of new residents have moved to the village who may wish to join the group. Should you know of anyone who has moved here since early 2014, we would be grateful if you could forward this document and encourage new residents to sign up to subsequent updates (via our email address or a note through the door of 11, Clyst Valley Road).]

“The latest hybrid planning application (16/2460/MOUT) from Friends Life Limited/Aviva for 150 dwellings, plus employment and new workplace units at Winslade Park is due to be considered by East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee on 31st October 2017, with the Planning Officers’ Recommendation to the Committee of Approval with Conditions within a 58-page document containing 20 Conditions plus a proposed Viability Legal Agreement.

The outline new build part of the application incorporates very limited information, which the majority of Consultees have found insufficient for making informed decisions and have either recommended refusal (Devon County Highways), have major concerns, find the proposals unacceptable or object (including Historic England, Sport England, the Parish Council, Ward Councillor and East Devon’s Historic Conservation, Landscape, Tree and Environmental Health Departments), plus 225 total objections generated by local residents.

For the existing local community of Clyst St Mary the flood risk is a major concern because historically the Grindle Brook and River Clyst have frequently caused severe damage.

[Pictures of historical flooding]

The link below identifies the current flood risk and shows the vulnerability of the Winslade Park site, proving that substantial future flood defences are essential.

https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/long-term-flood-risk/map?easting=297816&northing=90559&address=100040161688

East Devon’s planning recommendation states “The access road leading into the site, the area where the offices are proposed and areas of land around the Grindle Brook running through the site fall within flood zones 2 and 3 on the Environment Agency’s mapping system.

The new-build employment units are identified to be located adjacent to the entrance drive, part of this site is within flood zone 2 and a smaller part is in flood zone 3. Whilst it is not best practice to site new buildings in the flood zone, the allocation of the site is constrained by the flood zone(s) and if all buildings were sited outside the flood zone(s) then it is considered that the quantum of development in the allocation could not reasonably be delivered and therefore could affect the viability of the scheme. The employment use would be a less vulnerable use than the residential use and therefore it is less likely to be used/occupied in the event of a flood. Accordingly, it is considered that the proposed location of the employment units (based on the illustrative layout) would be acceptable and is the most appropriate location.”

Although the Environment Agency has been provided with a Flood Risk Assessment, their own website states that “flood defences do not completely remove the chance of flooding and can fail in extreme weather conditions,” leaving future residential and employment users of this site at risk.

Aviva is one of the linked companies associated with this proposed development at Winslade Park. Their Chief Executive, Mark Wilson, was noted for finalising the £5.6 billion acquisition of Friends Life with the resulting merger turning Aviva into one of the UK’s largest investors managing £300 billion plus assets.

Writing in the Telegraph in 2014, he emphasised that there should be a halt on building on “defenceless” flood plains. He stated that “As a nation we need to build more homes, but the cost of development must include the cost of defences. We can’t stop the weather, but we can act in unison to minimise the impact of extreme events and we know that the threat is only going to increase, with scientists predicting greater flood frequency and extreme weather as a result of climate change. Although the current focus for us all is coastal and river flooding, surface water flooding is a major concern. More homes, driveways and car parks all contribute to more water flowing into the system, and flowing quickly.”

He acknowledged that flooding is one of the most traumatic events that any householder or business can face, with families forced out of their homes, valuable and much-loved possessions being ruined and businesses struggling to trade. It can be many months before the drying-out process is completed and subsequent repairs can commence and he understood the emotional cost, trauma and feeling of vulnerability that comes with flooding. His mantra continued “Let’s be crystal clear: no defences, no development.”

Such strong opinions on flooding are applauded and ideally could benefit the development proposals by the Insurance Group for the residential, workplace and community areas at Winslade Park, Clyst St Mary that lie within flood zones!

The accessibility of guarantees for affordable insurance on households and businesses in flood-prone areas is comforting for existing homes and businesses but is East Devon District Council so restricted in the availability of quality development sites throughout their sizeable District that they are left reliant on recommending development on high risk flood zones?”