Shropshire Star

Driveways could be leading to flooding risk, claims councillor

Homeowners who convert their front gardens into private driveways could be contributing to flooding risk unless they use porous materials, a committee has heard.

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Telford & Wrekin Council's Environment Scrutiny Committee discussed the issue

Newport North and West councillor Tim Nelson said impermeable parking surfaces like concrete send rain water into drains immediately, increasing the risk of them overflowing in extreme weather.

He said the council could require conversions to use porous materials through its current planning and enforcement powers, but Environment Scrutiny Committee chairman Gilly Reynolds said she favoured an “education first” approach to explain the consequences before taking “heavy-handed” steps.

The committee was discussing a report on Telford and Wrekin’s drainage and flood risk management by Highways, Engineering and Project Delivery Service Delivery Manager Adam Brookes.

Councillor Nelson said: “This might seem like a relatively minor point and might not necessarily be a part of the overall strategy, but it came up in a meeting yesterday.

“We have areas of the borough where on-road parking is at a premium so some people have turned over their front gardens to parking.

“Potentially this is fine, because we might want people to be prosperous and have jobs and cars and we don’t want them to park on the road, but the surface has got to be porous.

“A parish councillor from an area of Telford was saying that the borough will not listen when she reports residents who concrete over their front garden.

“The general principal across the whole borough is profound, because it is entirely in our gift. Within permitted development rights, we have some guidance on porous materials.”

Cabinet member David Wright, whose portfolio includes housing and infrastructure, said: “The behaviour of individuals is also important, though.”

“But that can be managed through enforcement,” Councillor Nelson said, but Councillor Wright added that a “resource issue” affected the council’s ability to act.

Councillor Nelson said it was a question of priorities, adding that “the principal is quite significant because, if we’re going to get one-in-100-year flood events every five years then the velocity of run-off is really important”.

Councillor Reynolds said: “It is about a level of individual responsibility, isn’t it? Because, as individuals, we complain if we’re flooded, so, as individuals, we have to take some responsibility.

“I think it’s the same as we do with parking. Before we go in heavy-handed with enforcement we need to educate beforehand so it’s fair. For me, it’s unfair to punish someone for something they don’t recognise or understand is wrong and why it has an impact on others.”

Councillor Nelson said he hoped the council would publicise and promote “moral behaviour with regard to surface run-off” to residents.