Flash flood sparks fears over 'negligent' housing policy
PUBLISHED: 20:00 18 May 2016
People in Claverham fear building in some areas of the village could lead to 'disastrous consequences', after heavy rainfall caused the village's main road to flood.
Claverham High Street flooded on May 11 afternoon after prolonged rain the previous day, as shown in this photo taken by Nigel Cooper.
According to Mr Cooper, the village is ill-equipped to deal with floods and the loss of ground caused by new housing will only make matters worse.
Although Claverham is designated as a smaller ‘infill’ village by North Somerset Council, and is not included as a possible site for development within the council’s sites and allocations plan, some 70 new homes could still be built in the village. Developer Gladman applied to build the homes off Chestnut Drive last year and its outcome is yet to be determined.
Mr Cooper told the Mercury: “The flood appeared rapidly and was slow to drain away.
“The drains are part-blocked, despite maintenance in 2013, with run-off silt from local fields which are regularly waterlogged. There is nowhere for water to go except to gather at low points.
“Rain coming off Cadbury Camp Hill and other fields was flushing down Bishops Road and gathering in the centre of our village.
“As the photograph demonstrates, Claverham is very much at the limit of the land that can be built upon without disastrous consequences. With the moorland being completely saturated for a significant period of the year there is no viable way of storing additional run-off from new buildings.
“Ridiculous notions of raised floor levels, so new houses are not flooded internally, and mechanically pumped drainage will just create increased flood risk in the existing village.”
Claverham is in the process of creating a neighbourhood development plan, which has legal weight and will give villagers a say in where development takes place within their community.
One of the sites the Claverham Future steering group, led by Mr Cooper, has identified for future development is the current UTC Aerospace Systems site in Bishops Road. The business is due to relocate to new premises this year and the group believes the site will likely be sold for housing.
Mr Cooper said: “Claverham supports infill within our current village and re-use of existing building sites, as this follows the logical historical principle of Claverham’s past and supports a future which is least at risk of flooding.
“Any other policy would be negligent in the extreme.”