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Concerns over the threat of flooding in a North Derbyshire town have been heightened with plans for 75 hillside homes

todayDecember 7, 2022 18

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Concerns over the threat of flooding in a Derbyshire town have been heightened with plans for 75 hillside homes.

Flooding issues in Matlock in the Derbyshire Dales are complex and involve both problems with rivers breaking their banks and water running down from the hillside into the town.

Plans from Richborough Estates and Statham Property Maintenance LLP seek to build 75 homes off Chesterfield Road and Quarry Lane to the north-east of the town.

Derbyshire Dales District Council officers have now recommended that the plans are approved at a meeting on Tuesday, December 13, with councillors responsible for making a final decision.

Of the 75 homes, 23 would be classed as affordable housing, with 18 available for affordable rent and five for home ownership at a reduced price.

A total of 19 objection letters from residents have been submitted to the council, including opposition from Cllr Steve Wain, the town’s flood warden, the town council and the civic association.

They all raise concerns relating to the risk of flooding and sustainability, issues which have been effectively discounted – with mitigating conditions and improvements – by the Environment Agency and Derbyshire County Council’s flood team.

Cllr Wain, a Liberal Democrat representative for the Matlock All Saints ward, wrote: “The community and businesses of Matlock cannot be expected to tolerate such excessive condensed overdevelopment without first ensuring there is capacity within existing infrastructures.

“As a district councillor for the adjacent ward I also have serious concerns in relation to how this new development will blend into the landscape setting and also the fact that in my opinion this is a totally unsustainable location and will significantly increase car use into Matlock.”

He claims Severn Trent has confirmed there is no further capacity available locally for any additional surface water drainage.

Cllr Wain says the Bentley Brook catchment is now defined as a “high sensitivity” area following flooding over the past three years.

He worries about the impact of housing in the hills above Matlock with 423 homes proposed on a site known as The Wolds, off Gritstone Road and Sandy Lane, alongside other proposed and approved schemes.

Matlock Civic Association says that it has “consistently opposed the development of unallocated greenfield sites while there remain brownfield sites – of which there are several in Matlock – which remain undeveloped despite most of them having planning consents”.

It says: “So long as greenfield sites continue to be approved these brownfield sites will remain undeveloped and a blight on the town.

“Downstream flooding is becoming an increasing problem and must not be made worse by any development of this site.”

Objecting residents living close to the site said: “Building on more greenfield land surrounding Matlock will cause flooding.

“Would the developers be liable if properties in Matlock were damaged due to flooding?

“This part of Matlock is losing its semi-rural character and rapidly becoming an urban sprawl.

“The outlook and visual amenity from their properties would be adversely affected by the change in character.

“The land is unsuitable for development due to the exceptionally high water table on the lower part of the site with standing water for 10 months of the year.

“The land acts as a sponge slowing the egress of water into Bentley Brook.”

Authorities have requested a large sum of funds from the developers in order to offset the impact of the overall scheme, totalling nearly £670,000.

This includes nearly £590,000 for 21 secondary school spaces at Highfields School, £68,000 for healthcare improvements at Imperial Road Surgery in Matlock and Ivy Grove Surgery in Matlock, £5,300 for library services, £4,450 for providing allotments on a separate site and £3,750 for a travel plan.

District council planners say the site is sustainable due to public transport links and footpaths and because the area currently cannot show it has a five-year supply of land for housing.

They write that the benefits of providing 75 homes in a sustainable location outweigh the negatives, although the homes would be built on what experts feel is a sensitive and prominent location.

Officers write that the site is in Flood Zone 1, having a less than one in 1,000 annual probability of flooding, with the nearest flood zone sitting 80 metres away and linked to the Bentley Brook.

The overall risk of groundwater flooding on the site is said to be “medium” and analysis also finds surface water assessments are not fully representative of the risk, due to water running down the hillside and pooling on the plot itself and flowing through the south-west boundary into Quarry Lane.

Assessments show a significant surface water attenuation pond is required on the site – meaning a pond to collect water.

Officers write that the site “is situated within the Bentley Brook catchment which is a high sensitivity catchment whereby opportunities to provide betterment to areas downstream should be considered”.

Land drainage such as terraced swales and filters would be used to intercept and direct water running off the hillside, with water caught and stored on-site in a flood pond.

They conclude: “It is clear from the consideration of the main issues that the development should be approved as, subject to careful consideration of the reserved matters, there would be no significant adverse impacts or technical reasons to refuse planning permission that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits arising from the provision of market and affordable housing.”

What the 75-home scheme in Chesterfield Road, Matlock could look like. Image from Nineteen47.

Written by: NDR NEWS

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