To determine an application for an off-site surface storage basin to help reduce the extent of flooding experienced during times of extreme rainfall to the front of 102 and 104 Low Garth.
Off-site surface storage basin to help reduce the extent of flooding experienced during times of extreme rainfall to the front of nos. 102 and 104 Low Garth (South Lakes Housing).
Note – Councillor John Holmes declared a pecuniary interest in this item by virtue of the fact he was a Director of South Lakes Housing and left the meeting during the discussion on the item.
Councillor Brian Cooper by virtue of being pre-determined and having regard to bias and/or predetermination left the meeting during discussion on the item.
Councillor Susanne Long declared a non-pecuniary interest in this item by virtue of the fact she had been a member of Kendal Town Council Planning Committee and having regard for bias and/or predetermination, she left the meeting during discussion on the item.
The Planning Officer presented Planning Application No. SL/2019/0138 which sought permission to undertake earthworks to establish a surface water storage basin to intercept overland exceedance flows, ameliorating a known flood risk further to the southeast in the area around nos. 102 and 104 Low Garth. He informed Members that at the Planning Committee meeting on 6 June 2019, the application had been deferred in order to provide the applicant and Planning Officers the opportunity to reconsider the application and to provide more information regarding wider hydrological issues and to consider the application in a wider context. The Planning Officer displayed photographs and plans which outlined the proposals. He informed Members that representations submitted had highlighted concerns regarding: the smell; build-up of toxins from agricultural run-off; disease due to standing water; and the risk of drowning. He explained that since the application had been considered in June, the Council’s Public Protection Team had consulted with Public Health England and no objections had been raised. In addition the applicant had undertaken a formal risk assessment and the risk of drowning had been assessed as low.
The Planning Officer went on to explain that the Hallgarth Estate had a history of flooding and following a severe event in June 2012, Cumbria County Council, in its role as Lead Local Flood Authority, carried out a thorough investigation and published Flood Investigation Report No. 68 which had included eight recommendations, seven of which had been completed by the time the report was published in 2013. The outstanding recommendation, which asked residents to continue to report future flooding incidents, remained ongoing. The 2013 report had also identified three possible options to be considered further, which included: the potential for localised interventions such as a community wet woodland area; estate wide upgrade of the surface water infrastructure by United Utilities; and creation of a storage area upstream of High Sparrowmire.
The Planning Officer went on to outline the current position with regard to the three possible options and advised Members that despite seven of the eight recommendations from the 2013 report having been completed, there was still significant risk of flooding and that the proposed detention basin would ameliorate the risk. The Planning Officer highlighted the link between South Lakes Housing’s planning application for 26 dwellings on an allocated site and advised Members that the application for the storage basin should be considered on its own merits. He displayed further photographs which outlined the impact of the flooding and went on to outline the proposal which was a cut and fill exercise to create a basin with a uniform depth of 400mm. He went on to make reference to the report from R.G. Parkins and Partners Ltd and highlighted the calculations within the report in relation to the total volumetric storage, the level of the proposed discharge pipe and assumptions regarding flow rates through the garden of 15 High Sparrowmire and he stated that the detention basin would detain a significant volume of water, which would be held until it filtered naturally into the water table, which was expected to take no more than 24 hours. In concluding his presentation the Planning Officer acknowledged that one of the possible future options, as identified in the 2013 report, was a long term aim of an estate wide upgrade of the surface water infrastructure by United Utilities and stated that in the meantime the opportunity to retrofit a complementary sustainable drainage solution should be welcomed.
In response to a question raised by the Chairman, the Planning Officer confirmed that the application site was owned by South Lakeland District Council.
The Chairman invited Doug Coyle, Manager of Flood and Development Management, Cumbria County Council, to address the Committee. Mr Coyle informed Members that Cumbria County Council had been using detention basins for a number of years and had no concerns. He went on to highlight that Kendal Parks had two storage basins neither of which raised concerns. Mr Coyle informed Members that the retrofit Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) was a welcome addition to an existing scheme.
Local residents Rachael Burles, Amena Cassange, Richard Smith, Paul Naylor, Lee Gillies, Ian Hoggett and Jo Miller addressed the Committee in opposition to the application. A number of photographs were displayed throughout their representations. They highlighted concerns regarding the adequacy of the proposal and its design, the reliability of calculations and the applicant’s decision not to revisit the calculations following readings taken in June 2019 and the lack of consideration of the wider hydrological issue. They highlighted their health and safety concerns regarding the risk of disease and pathogens caused by agricultural run-off and the risk of drowning, and the surveillance expectations of residents to warn each other when the basin was full. In conclusion the residents drew Members’ attention to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which stated that ‘planning policies and decisions should promote public safety…’ and informed Members that the application did not promote public safety and they asked Members to consider if the proposal was an acceptable and proper solution and stated that everyone had the right to live safely.
Councillor Jon Owen, Ward Member for Kendal North, addressed the Committee. Councillor Owen informed the Committee that he wanted to enable more housing but could not support the application. He was concerned that if the scheme was approved it would reduce the likelihood of an upgrade of the drainage scheme as a whole. He urged Members to pay attention to the concerns of the local residents who had a good understanding of the flooding and drainage issues in their area and knowledge of what was a complex scheme and to give them due consideration.
Mr Chris Gardner, the applicant’s agent, addressed the Committee. He informed Members that the storage basin was a simple solution which would hold back water in a storm event and that it was not a permanent water feature, as it would drain down in 24 hours. He highlighted that the proposal had the support of United Utilities and the Local Lead Flood Authority. Mr Gardner responded to the health and safety concerns of local residents stating that the risks were minimal and he stated that the proposal was a sustainable urban solution.
In further presenting his report the Planning Officer informed Members that the proposed storage basin was not intended to, and would not solve, the existing flooding problems and it was essential that Members understood that it was not the applicant’s responsibility. However, evidence suggested that the storage basin would ameliorate a recurring flooding problem on the Hallgarth Estate. The Planning Officer acknowledged and responded to concerns raised during public participation and stated that Public Health England had concluded that there was minimal risk.
Doug Coyle, Manager of Flood and Development Management, Cumbria County Council advised Members that as the Local Lead Flood Authority, Cumbria County Council checked all applications and designs and the SuDS basin proposal before Members was adequate to remove and reduce surface water during storm conditions.
The Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist, in response to a point made by a member of the public, highlighted to Members that paragraph 45 and 46 of the Planning Officer’s report outlined that, since the application had been considered in June 2019, the applicant had been requested to complete a SuDS Risk Assessment and attention was drawn to the relevant paragraphs and the conclusions.
Members gave consideration to the health and safety risks association with water and the contradicting views of the applicant and local residents in this regard. The Planning Officer clarified that the design of the basin had been based on the infiltration of water and that tests had been carried out based on the calculations and the basin had been designed to drain down in approximately 24 hours. In addition he confirmed that United Utilities did not have estate wide improvements within their capital programme. A number of Members expressed concern that other more suitable options had not been adequately explored by the applicant. Members agreed that they had been impressed by the informed contributions of the residents and that they had hoped to see an improved plan of development from the applicant. One Member spoke of the need to control and hold back the flow of water and outlined personal experience of flooding.
A motion to grant the application was proposed and seconded and following a lengthy debate was put to the vote and lost.
Members sought legal advice and advice from the Interim Development Management Team Leader.
A motion to exclude the press and public in order to receive legal advice and advice from the Interim Development Management Team Leader was proposed and following further advice, the motion to exclude the press and public was withdrawn.
Following further debate a motion to defer the application, in order to provide the applicant the opportunity to commission a bacteriologist report to analyse the agricultural run-off, was put to the vote and lost.
A motion to refuse the application was proposed and seconded and it was
RESOLVED – That the application be refused for the following reasons:-
The proposed groundworks would appear as an over-engineered and visually damaging physical alteration to this established area of public open space, failing to respond appropriately to local character and distinctiveness and therefore contrary to:
(1) Policy CS8.2 (Protection and enhancement of landscape and settlement character) of the South Lakeland Core Strategy;
(2) Policies DM1 (General Requirements for all development) and DM2 (Achieving Sustainable High Quality Design) of the South Lakeland Development Management Policies Development Plan Document; and
(3) the objective of achieving well-designed places set out in Section 12 of the National Planning Policy Framework.
The proposal will be ineffective in resolving, or even ameliorating, existing flood risk on the Hallgarth Estate. It does not represent an example of the appropriate management and treatment of surface water expected by policy DM6 (Flood Risk Management and Sustainable Drainage Systems) of the South Lakeland Development Management Policies Development Plan Document.
Insufficient evidence has been provided to demonstrate that less damaging and potentially more effective alternative measures for managing existing flood risk on the Hallgarth Estate have been taken into account in the site selection and design process for this particular scheme. The proposal would thereby fail to comply with: (1) Policies CS2 (Kendal Strategy) and CS8.8 (Development and flood risk) of the South Lakeland Core Strategy; (2) Policy DM6 ((Flood Risk Management and Sustainable Drainage Systems) of the South Lakeland Development Management Policies Development Plan Document; and (3) the advice and guidance in respect of meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change set out in Section 14 of the National Planning Policy Framework.
Note – The Committee voted to adjourn for a break at 11:42 a.m. and reconvened at 11.53 a.m. when the same Members were present with the exception of Councillors Holmes, Cooper and Dixon.