Dickens Heath homes set for go ahead despite flood concerns - The Solihull Observer

Dickens Heath homes set for go ahead despite flood concerns

Solihull Editorial 25th Oct, 2019   0

WORK to build five new homes in flood-stricken Dickens Heath could start next month – if Solihull councillors agree to a plan to reduce flood risk.

As we have reported, the development on Birchy Leasowes Lane would controversially put five detached three-storey houses on the site of one property.

The site, which includes a new access drive, will stretch to the rear of properties and gardens in Birchy Leasowes Lane and bungalows in Birchy Close.

Planning officers have agreed flooding could be prevented on the site with a permeable surface on the driveway.

Under the drainage plans, water would flow beneath the drive and collect in a perforated pipe, before running into the sewers.

A ‘hydro-brake’ in the pipe would stop excessive flow into the sewers, which would force water to be held in the ground beneath the drive during heavy rainfall.

In May, Dickens Heath and Birchy Leasowes Lane endured massive flooding when a month’s worth of rain fell in just an hour.

The new homes will be in the flood risk area, 900 yards from the River Cole.

Agreeing to the proposals in September, Solihull Council said work could only go ahead once a flood reduction plan had been agreed at a meeting on October 30.

Dickens Heath Residents Association, the parish council and 23 residents formally opposed the plans.

A main concern was the lack of evidence provided by the applicants regarding drainage and considerable flooding concerns.

Solihull’s planning department said: “The applicant [Green Villa Homes] will need to provide further information to ensure that the proposed development can go ahead without posing an unacceptable flood risk to properties within the area.”

Solihull council is preparing a full-scale investigation into May’s floods, which some councillors believe should have been released before approval was granted.

Time constraints on the planning process, and fears that the decision would be taken out of the councillors’ hands, pushed the committee to approve the development with the flood prevention conditions.

They cited national guidance which meant they only had limited time to decide on the planning application.

Prior to the councillors approval, resident Rebecca Hadley claimed the proposed three-storey houses would ‘loom’ over her garden and ‘dominate’ her view.

She added: “I am concerned about the further destruction to the trees and the habitat for wildlife.

“And the development will put further pressure on the drainage in the area. Even with a light fall of rain my garden becomes like a rice paddy field.

“This isn’t about building houses for the council’s shortfall, it is about making money.

“We need to start setting precedents to save local areas and green space.”

Gayle Collins from Green Villa Homes told the planning committee the trees felled were of ‘no particular merit’ and claimed the development would provide much-needed housing for the borough.

Blythe councillor Ken Hawkins said he had never been so angry about a so-called ‘garden grabbing’ application.

He told the meeting: “The developer destroyed scores of mature trees – some about 100 years old.

“The site resembled a scene in Lord of the Rings when the orcs destroyed the trees in Middle Earth. It is shameful.”


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