Sewage 'bubbles out of manholes and flows down street' in town 'swamped' by more than a 1,000 new homes

Residents in one small Gloucestershire town, which has seen 1,000 homes built in recent years, have had to put up with “sewage bubbling out of manholes and running down the street”. Several people from Newent say their market town is growing at a faster rate relative to its size than any of the other Forest of Dean district towns.

But the planned investment in employment and facilities in the historic town, which has a population of around 6,700, has failed to materialise. And residents say the infrastructure cannot cope as heavy rains recently led to raw sewage "bubbling up through manhole covers" in Newent which "ran through the street for several days".

Mark James, said in a letter to councillors that their current development blueprint for the district, set out that new employment sites should be created in Newent to support the new housing to avoid encouraging increased commuting.

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“What happened? He asked in a written question to civic chiefs presented at last night’s (April 18) Forest of Dean District Council meeting in Coleford.

“Despite the policy set out, Newent has gained over 1000 new homes during the current plan period - a faster rate of development, relative to the town's size than any of the other Forest towns.

“At the same time the planned investment in employment and facilities has failed to materialise. Newent residents could be forgiven for feeling neglected and betrayed by previous Fores of Dean District Council administrations.

“Does the new Green administration have plans to get things back on track for Newent, and ensure our future as a sustainable working agricultural market town?”

And heavy rains recently led to raw sewage bubbling up through manhole covers in Newent which then ran through the street for several days. Jeff Steers, has asked the council how knowledge of such an occurrence will impact on the planning policies for Newent in the emerging local plan.

“During a period of heavy rains earlier this month raw sewage bubbled up through manhole covers in Newent and ran through the street for several days,” he said. “

“Severn Trent Water have now been trying to remedy this for the last ten days with traffic lights, a large tanker and diggers. The infrastructure was simply unable to cope with the combined flow and weight of rainwater and effluent.

“In a response to a recent planning application, Severn Trent have stated that their facilities in Newent will be unable to cope with the impacts of more new houses being built until planned upgrades at their facilities have been completed which will likely be 2030 or later.”

Linda Borne, another Newent resident, asked what the council would do to safeguard the best and most versatile agricultural land in and around the town. “This land is important because it is constantly able to produce the highest yield of crops, the widest variety of crops and has the greatest potential to continue to be productive through climate change,” she said in her question to the council.

Newent Market House in High Street
Newent residents say their town has been growing at a faster rate than other Forest of Dean district towns

“Forest of Dean District Council custodian to only a small area of this vital natural resource: mainly surrounding the town of Newent. Its existence seems to have been largely overlooked by previous administrations. How will the council recognise the significance and value of this land in emerging strategic and development plans?”

Council leader Adrian Birch (G, Tidenham) told the meeting more details about the emerging local plan which will set out the blueprint for development until 2041 would be made public in the coming months.