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Calls to defer Emsworth homes plan to Environment Agency amid ‘horrifying’ flood and nature risks

Published in the Portsmouth News on the 6th August 2018
Story by Byron Melton

 

CAMPAIGNERS have called for a planning application to be deferred to the Environment Agency amid fears a development could lead to flooding. 

Residents have said Hampshire Homes’ plans for 46 homes east of Westwood Close, in Emsworth, could ‘pose a serious threat’ to the local water table after they were lodged with Havant Borough Council (HBC).

The build is pencilled for flood zone one land close to the River Ems – which according to the Environment Agency has less than a 0.1 per cent chance of flooding.

However, areas surrounding the site fall into flood zones two and three which face a one per cent chance or greater of flooding from rivers in any given year.

Chairman of Havant Friends of the Earth, Ray Cobbett, says the proposals must be deferred so a development’s full, potential impact on the River Ems can be assessed.

‘The potential consequences of dumping two acres of concrete beside the river are too horrifying to imagine,’ he said.

‘Apart from raising the water table to affect surrounding land there is the impact of pollution and its effect on the Brook Meadow Nature Reserve downstream of the housing site.’

READ MORE: Footpath loss angers locals at Emsworth homes plan exhibition

The July application came in the same month the National Planning Policy Framework was updated to encourage development only where it will ‘enhance’ the environment.

Mr Cobbett along with Westwood Close resident Rosie Lefevre both believe this proposal would fail to do that.

‘We know homes are needed, but we don’t believe this site can take it,’ Rosie said.

‘This land is not ploughed and it does flood – it’s a sponge. And I worry the developers are not aware of exactly what can happen there.’

READ MORE: Developers and locals clash over proposed Emsworth homes

Despite fears, property consultant Bryan Jezeph, on behalf of Hampshire Homes, said he believes there is ‘no issue with flooding’ and the revised NPPF ‘has not changed anything in respect of development’.

On the notion of an application referral, a spokesperson for HBC said it has consulted with 35 organisations on the plans – including  ecologists, the Environment Agency and Natural England.

It confirmed the plans would be assessed against the NPPF in its entirety and residents can comment on the application by 22nd August 2018, by visiting bit.ly/2OH8NFM

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