A couple's £437,000 home was "ruined" by floodwater and has now been left potentially unsellable thanks to a nearby new build estate, they have claimed.
Neil and Sarah Cranston said their house flooded in June 2021, claiming it was due to drainage issues then flooded again in September that year after a downpour onto land which had been compacted with no drainage due to a nearby development – leaving excess water running into their garden and patio.
They had to temporarily move out due to the damage, and said they have now been left with damp problems which an estate agent told them means their home could be unsellable.
The couple, who have four children, are calling for developer Countryside to compensate them but the firm says the September flooding was caused by "temporary ground conditions" and "was not directly caused by inadequate drainage for the development".
The Cranston's property backs onto land being developed for St James' Park in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, which includes schools, shops and hundreds of houses, and they say there was not adequate drainage on it, leading to their problems.
Neil Cranston, 49, said: "We moved back here in August 2022 and since then we've got all the damp coming back again.
“They just say there was drainage [on the neighbouring development] but there was not – and because of the damp problems we can't sell the house now.
“No one is accepting responsibility, the developers aren't really saying much and the council aren't accepting responsibility."
He said the saga was taking its toll on them, exacerbating the stress his wife already has due to her job as a midwife.
'They've flooded our house'
Cranston said they were aware negotiations were ongoing for a housing development behind their home when they bought it in 2019 for £437k.
The first phase of homes then became available at St James' Park in summer 2021, according to the Countryside website.
He said: "They’ve flooded our house due to poor planning and not putting any drainage in place.
“They stripped the land of all the topsoil and compacted it into almost tarmac, there was no drainage and it flooded – we reported it and nothing was done.
"The first floor wasn’t major, it was mostly the garden and patio area, but in September it was a major flood."
Pictures and video show the extent of flooding at the Cranstons' home, with water pooled around the ground floor and in the garden.
They complained but said they can't get anywhere, with Cranston adding: "We’re fighting the case but we’re getting nowhere and these big building companies are getting away with building on unsuitable land."
A spokesperson for Countryside said: "The Cranstons’ home experienced flooding on one occasion, in September 2021, this was not directly caused by inadequate drainage for the development but by temporary ground conditions that were the result of work carried out by a specialist subcontractor who retained design responsibility for the work.
"We were in communication with the Cranstons following this incident, and work was undertaken to rectify the damage by the subcontractor appointed by the Cranstons' house insurance company – and any complications in repairing the damage will need to be addressed by them.
"We would highlight that this was an isolated flooding event that took place in September 2021, and has not reoccurred.
"The groundworks subcontractor has undertaken all necessary mitigation measures to ensure there is not a repeat of the flooding and we do not consider that there is any evidence of the drainage patterns having been altered by the development.
"As this is subject to an ongoing claim we cannot comment further."
East Herts District Council said it had been contacted by the Cranstons in 2021 and again in the summer about the rising damp problem and said their local councillor had visited them about the issue.
What to do if your home floods
Flooding can happen very quickly, warns Citizens Advice, but if you have received a flood warning there are various steps you can take to limit damage.
activating any home flood defences you may have
turning off gas and electricity at the isolator switch or fuse box
finding warm clothes and wellies
moving valuable items to a safe place above the flood waters, concentrating on smaller portable items of sentimental value
putting soft furnishings up high
moving vehicles to higher ground
If you are flooded, there are various organisations you can contact including Floodline, which can provide advice on practical steps and the risk of any further flooding.
You should also contact your insurance company and if you live in rented accommodation, your landlord.
Your local council can also provide information on how emergency services are responding to the flood, any shelter or assistance for people who have been evacuated from their homes and any help with the clean-up process, such as the provision of skips.
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau
For support and advice about flooding and sources of financial assistance and crisis help in your area, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
'Fantastic' development is Welsh debut for house-building company (South Wales Argus)