Bransgore 100-homes plan deferred by New Forest District Council over flooding fears
DIRE warnings that future residents could be subjected to a “watery grave” prompted New Forest district councillors to put off a decision on a 100-home development in Bransgore.
The scheme for land south of Derritt Lane was vehemently opposed by Bransgore and Sopley parish councils, plus more than 140 objectors.
They have claimed it would lead to flooding misery for future residents, neighbours and downstream communities in Sopley, Winkton and Ripley.
During a meeting of New Forest District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, Cllr David Hawkins declared: “I cannot commit the residents of this area to a watery grave – you just do not build on flood plains.”
Plans for the site, which include 30 affordable homes along with wildflower meadows, a pond and a children’s play area, were drawn up by applicants Wyatt Homes.
Speaking on behalf of the developers, Nick Guildford pointed out the scheme was not opposed by any “professional, technical consultees” and was supported by Hampshire County Council as the lead authority on flooding issues.
He said: “Rather than an afterthought, the design process began with a comprehensive and innovative surface water drainage strategy, which the development has been designed around.”
The site was included in NFDC’s Local Plan, which governs construction outside the national park until 2036, and is earmarked for up to 100 homes.
The current scheme proposes 70 two, three, four and five-bedroom open market homes and 30 affordable flats and houses.
Local resident Graham Hacker criticised the location of the proposed play park and treatment of footpaths leading to the site.
“Having secured an unsuitable site on a flood plain we are now working towards a whole series of compromises to make this commercially viable,” he said.
Also objecting, Philip Emmel from Sopley said: “We are downstream – the traffic, the flood water, the sewage all flow down to us.”
However, NFDC head of planning Claire Upton-Brown warned Wyatt Homes could not be held responsible for existing flooding issues.
“It not reasonable for a developer to be expected to resolve existing problems that are unrelated to a development,” she said.
Debating the application, Cllr Sue Bennison commended the way affordable housing was distributed throughout the site, adding she liked the scheme’s design.
Cllr Anne Sevier told the meeting: “Great efforts have obviously been made to take into account all the issues.”
However, Cllr Malcolm Wade said while the scheme had many positives he could not support it.
“If that area is flooding now and we have climate change, it will bring in massive amounts of extra precipitation,” he argued.
Cllr Barry Rickman applauded plans for 30% affordable housing but had similar concerns.
“This morning I have been wondering whether we are talking about the design of a marina rather than a housing estate – I cannot support it,” he said.
Cllr Ann Bellows said she was unconvinced by the mitigation against flooding and envisaged houses “surrounded by a moat of water”.
A proposal to grant permission by Cllr Bennison was not supported by the committee, so members agreed to defer a decision to allow for further detail of flooding prevention measures to be examined.