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Family’s flood fear as homes approved

Julie Proctor and her father Colin Torbutt is concerned about water levels rising at Studd cottages, near Hampton
Julie Proctor and her father Colin Torbutt is concerned about water levels rising at Studd cottages, near Hampton

A family fear their home could be swamped after the city council’s planning officers ignored warnings about homes being built on a flood plain. Julie Proctor, 37, and her husband Scott, 41, have lived at Studd Cottages off Whitstable Road for 12 years, and have a well in their back garden to try and prevent their home being flooded. The 19th century cottages were built close to the Westbrook stream, which flows into the sea near Hampton Pier. But now they are angry with the council because they have dismissed Environment Agency (EA) objections to a new home being built within eight yards of The stream. Julie said:

“A few years ago we had the fire brigade out desperately trying to stop the floods, and we always get calls from the EA floodline with warnings after there has been heavy rain and high tides. That’s why we put the well in because it stops water coming into our property. But if you empty it is fills back up again within about half an hour.”

In a letter agency planning adviser Pieter De Villiers said:

“We object to this application because it has failed to meet the requirements of the second part of the flood risk exception test, and recommend that it be refused on that basis.”

They have been supported by Julie’s parents Colin and Maureen Tobutt. Mrs Tobutt said:

“I don’t think houses should be built on floodplains. It’s other people’s lives that they are ruining.”

Mr Tobutt said:

“They are going to build this home without complying with all the necessary regulations. I don’t see how they could store the water needed.”

Council spokesman Celia Glynn-Williams said that any construction within eight yards of Westbrook is subject to bye laws, which requires the Environment Agency approval before it can be given the go ahead. She said:

“Although the Environment Agency objected at the outset to the original application, amended plans were submitted that addressed their concerns. The applicant has demonstrated how the dwelling could be built while providing adequate compensatory flood storage to offset the impact of the dwelling on the floodwater capacity.”

In the draft local plan for Herne Bay 3,000 homes could be built here by 2031. What do you think? Will there be more flood risks? Write to us: Herne Bay Gazette, 5-8 Boorman Way, Estuary View Business Park, Whitstable, CT5 3SE. Email us: hernebaygazette@thekmgroup.co.uk or join the debate on our Facebook page: Herne Bay Gazette.

Herne Bay Gazette, November 27th 2014

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