Telford housing project approved despite flooding concerns

A controversial housing development has been approved, despite concerns about the impact on a neighbouring nature reserve.

Living Space Housing Ltd plans to build 39 houses on land west of Majestic Way, Aqueduct. Image: Google.
Living Space Housing Ltd plans to build 39 houses on land west of Majestic Way, Aqueduct. Image: Google.

Living Space Housing Ltd’s plans to build 39 houses on land west of Majestic Way, Aqueduct, Telford were approved by Telford & Wrekin Council’s Planning Committee by a majority vote.

An officers’ report told members the developer had agreed to contribute nearly £53,000 towards the upkeep of the adjacent Dawley Pools and Pit Mounds Local Nature Reserve, including a 25-year maintenance plan and a hibernation refuge for great-crested newts.

Dawley Hamlets Parish Council member Kate Barnes told the committee residents were also concerned about the possibility of flooding, but Area Team Planning Manager Andrew Gittins said the six-acre site was in a low-probability area.

Living Space representative Luke Webb said the Solihull-based company had worked with the council throughout the application process to provide the mix of housing required in the area.

Mr Webb said: “The proposed scheme also offers biodiversity enhancement, not least through the provision of a comprehensive landscaping scheme and an above-ground SUDS [sustainable urban drainage system] pond feature, whilst existing boundary hedgerows are maintained.”

He added that the developer had agreed to contribute £165,000 towards local education, £23,000 towards play facilities and £52,900 for the nature reserve, “with Living Space having worked extremely closely with the council to mitigate any potential ecological impact”.

Mr Gittins said the £52,900 comprised “£18,000 towards footpaths, £14,000 for the restoration of three ponds for great-crested newts and other amphibians, £1,800 for information boards and litter bins and £1,100 towards a newt hibernaculum, in addition to £18,000 for a 25-year programme of maintenance”.

Probability

The report said that, during two rounds of consultation, some residents living near the site said the drainage management plan for the site was “unclear”, adding that “the floods of 2020 saw Widewaters Pool and Little Dawley Pools at capacity”.

Councillor Barnes pointed out that flooding concerns had also been raised at the committee hearing last year, when outline planning permission was granted, and asked whether these had been addressed.

Mr Gittins said: “The site is within flood zone one, which is the lowest probability of flooding.”

He said the planned pond, that fed into a drain, would “mitigate the impact of the surface water created by the development itself”.

Councillor Ian Fletcher, who raised flooding concerns at the previous meeting, asked what mitigation there was in case of “potential catastrophic failure at Dawley Pools, that could flood this site”.

He said he was not satisfied with the answers he had received about that, and was one of three committee members who voted against the application.

Dawley Hamlets Parish Council objected to the plans, and issued a “call-in” notice, requiring it to be discussed in public by the borough’s planning committee.

Its reasons, the officers’ report said, included the “effect the development would have on wildlife in the area, including a population of great-crested newts”.

The Friends of Dawley Hamlets Local Nature Reserve, who also objected, asked for reassurances it would be involved in the “retention and enhancement of the bordering woodland”, and asked for reassurances they would be involved in this, the report said.

Committee legal advisor Ian Ross told members they could not name a specific group in the planning conditions, but said officers could liaise with them about taking an ongoing role.

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