The proposed strategy sets out Kirklees Council’s role in managing the risk of flooding in the district and highlighted that there are 44,000 homes in Kirklees currently at risk. The plans are currently being consulted upon and the new strategy set to be adopted next year.
However, members of the Granny Lane Area Action Group (GLAAG), in Mirfield, have said the plans add “insult to injury” for those living in their area.
A drawn out planning battle saw an application from Miller Homes for a 67-home estate at Granny Lane approved in 2019, refused by the council’s strategic planning committee in February 2021, then approved upon appeal a year later. During this time, concerns were raised by residents about the site’s tendency to flood in times of heavy rainfall and flooding was one of the grounds for refusal of the application in 2021.
Members of GLAAG have highlighted the irony that some of the reasons they fought for the refusal of the application in 2021 are features of the council’s strategy, yet the development is going ahead despite the known flood risk.
The likelihood the site would flood in the future was acknowledged by planning inspector, Chris Baxter, during the appeal process. However, it was said access to the estate would not be made impassable for long periods and a planned alternative access would still allow people to get in and out of their homes.
Residents have spoken of the impact both flooding and the development has had on their mental health and have described a “lack of empathy for flood victims” shown by the planning inspector. The negative impact is reportedly exacerbated by the developer ‘ignoring’ planning conditions that were decided at appeal since they began work on site.
A spokesperson for GLAAG said: “Amongst other points put to the committee, a significant one was the increased threat to the mental health of those whose homes have been flooded: it was already well known that depression, stress and PTSD can continue to affect victims of flooding at least two years after the event, points pressed by Councillor Graham Turner in the article, and attested to by local residents who had personal experience of the trauma.
“We have, I think, yet to hear from any member or officer of Kirklees able to assure us from direct experience that it [the impact of flooding] wouldn’t be significant and wouldn’t be too bad either.
“Now residents living metres from the development site are daily affected by deliberate and continual breaches of the specific planning conditions by the developers, who have allowed site operatives to work outside permitted hours, create excessive dust emissions and endanger life by recklessly using the prohibited HGV route and blocking pavements.
“The irony is not lost on residents as the breaches have been reported to Councillor Turner. Yet development proceeds apace; of any enforcement of the measures laid down to protect the physical health and mental well-being of existing Kirklees residents we see no sign.”
A Miller Homes spokesperson said: “As with any of our live development sites we take the health and safety of our operations and their impact on the community very seriously.
“All our contractors and suppliers are required to adhere to the associated planning approval and construction management plan, which also defines the requirements around working hours, the use of HGVs, noise, vibration and remediation required to deal with dust and mud. The works at Granny Lane are being completed in line with these associated standards and parameters.
“Notwithstanding this, our site management team would welcome any concerns being raised directly with them, so that they can assist with any necessary actions.”
Kirklees Council was approached for comment.