Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Petition launched demanding more say for residents

A MAN from Shiplake has launched a petition calling for villagers to have a bigger say on a housing development which they fear will worsen flooding.

Developer Taylor Wimpey, which is to build 95 homes at the former Thames Farm off Reading Road, has been forced to change its drainage arrangements after discovering the site is prone to developing sink holes.

It wants to divert all surface water along a new pipeline which would run beneath Lower Shiplake and out to the other side into Lash Brook, a backwater of the River Thames that runs behind homes in Mill Road.

The brook has flooded several times in recent years, sometimes forcing homes to be evacuated, and villagers fear this would make the problem worse. South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, is considering the drainage plan as a “reserved matter” with no statutory public consultation period.

After receiving about 150 letters of objection, it ordered Taylor Wimpey to conduct a full flood risk assessment and once that has been received will allow another 14 days for public comment.

But Peter Boros, who lives in Reading Road, says the drainage scheme is so different from the original one that a fresh planning application should be made.

This would give the community 28 days to respond and the council would be legally required to consult everyone who could be affected.

Mr Boros said: “A fresh application would have far wider coverage in terms of people’s ability to make representations and consider what is being proposed. If what we know now had been available at the time of the original application, I have little doubt that it would have been rejected.

“I have some sympathy for Taylor Wimpey but they didn’t do their due diligence to understand what they were buying. If they had, they would have proposed something more manageable that could be dealt with by conventional drainage.

“This arrangement is totally unsustainable at a time of global warming and rivers breaking their banks increasingly often. The last thing we want is anything which will add to that.”

David Bartholomew, Shiplake’s district councillor, said: “The public can’t usually comment on reserved matters but an exception was made when the village became aware and the council received 150 objections. Because of the volume and level of local knowledge imparted, these were published on its online planning portal and officers agreed to seek a flood risk assessment.

“Lash Brook is a stagnant backwater which has no natural flow and algae growing on the surface for much of the year, so there is genuine concern that this would considerably alter the hydrology of the area.”

Taylor Wimpey, which says the scheme would not worsen the flood risk, has confirmed it will submit a flood risk assessment.

The Environment Agency will not comment on the proposal, saying it’s a surface water issue rather than a river one so doesn’t fall within its remit.

To sign the petition, visit http://chng.it/pm4TLk8VLh

More News:

Latest video from

VIDEO: Tributes paid after rugby player's death

POLL: Have your say