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Ham Road – 5th Supplementary Representation - Application No. 23/502113

Ham Road – 5th Supplementary Representation - Application No. 23/502113

We note that the EA have finally submitted an objection to this application as requested and  justified in in our 5 previous representations. The Applicants have responded by  submitting an amended Flood Risk Assessment (FRA).  We first suggested that this was necessary last Summer, the FRA  had been modelled assuming an incorrect defended scenario.  We have also challenged the original FRA in the light  of the application of outdated Climate Change factors and the impact of the mitigation proposed on adjacent housing in Springhead Road.

Environment Agency Position March 2024

We have no objection, in principle, to the proposed development, however, we object to the current proposal, as submitted, as the applicant has not provided adequate information to address our concerns relating to flood risk.

We request that the applicant addresses the following:

  1. The full impacts of climate change on the development have not been considered.
  • The impact of the mitigation proposed on adjacent development should also be considered.

As detailed below the amended FRA ignores both these substantive grounds for objection and as such the application should be refused unless they address them with a satisfactory and compliant response.

1       CLIMATE CHANGE

Last July we submitted our first representation expressing concern that Climate Change allowances had not been accounted for and that the dataset, supplied by the EA for modelling Flood Risk, was out of date.  After extensive lobbying, from the Faversham Society, the EA have finally addressed the issue.

The EA now  advise that “As part of the Environment Agency’s Medway Estuary and Swale (MEAS) Programme, updated tidal modelling outputs (North Kent Coast Domain 2) covering this site are currently being undertaken. The model is expected to be complete in the Spring 2024 and will include the latest climate change allowances.

Quite frankly we are staggered that the applicants have rejected this.  They state in the  amended FRA  that “RSK is aware that updated modelling has been commissioned by the EA, however the results of this study have not been published and therefore the assessment has been based on the best available information at the time of writing.”

This is clearly an unsatisfactory response. Substantive  evidence has emerged over the last 6 years that climate change is accelerating. Their FRA is based on outdated  climate change data. Are they not aware of the record rise in both sea temperature and sea level rise over the last year?

It is evident  that the application  must be suspended pending receipt of the new data.

2       IMPACT OF MITIGATION PROPOSED ON ADJACENT DEVELOPMENT.

The applicants say in the FRA (6.4) “As the flood risk is from tidal sources, no flood compensation is required as it is generally accepted that tidal floodplain compensation volumes do not need to be accounted for”. This distinction is not referenced in the NPPPF with only the following statement being made in  the 2022 Flood Risk and Coastal Change  Guidance. “ The loss of floodplain storage is less likely to be a concern in areas benefitting from appropriate flood risk management infrastructure or where the source of flood risk is solely tidal.”  However, the guidance also  specifically  says that the impact of  deflection of flood waters or constriction of flood flow routes by obstructions should be assessed. Any impacts should be identified and the FRA  should demonstrate how mitigation measures have addressed them. The amended FRA is silent on these issues.

As explained above, the applicants have dismissed the request  to take climate change into account in submitting their revised FRA.  It is also unclear whether wind speed, wave height and storm surge have been addressed or whether EA guidance on how to apply Extreme Sea Level Allowances (ESL) have been considered. The amended FRA has merely been adjusted to respond to the undefended scenario. We are concerned to note, that even on this limited reassessment, back gardens to some of the properties in Springfield Road, the Brents Industrial Estate and the footpath link connecting The Brents to the marsh is presented as being underwater `at high tide.

Revised FRA flood map – undefended scenario.

The applicants would appear to be wilfully ignoring the Guidance  and for this reason alone the application should be refused.

3       FOUL DRAINAGE

Southern Water have stated, in their pre-development enquiry response, that there is  currently inadequate capacity within the foul sewage network to accommodate a foul flow of 2.26l/s for the development at manhole reference TR01624201. The nearest point where capacity is currently available is at manhole reference TR02612701, located approximately 570m south-east of the site.  It is stated that additional off-site sewers or improvements to existing sewers will be required to provide sufficient capacity to service the development.

No further information is provided. Given the location of the manhole TR02612701 (see plan below) both the feasibility and viability of the works to upgrade/replace the connections must be questioned.  The creek has to be traversed!

We suspect that the CIL contributions needed to fund these works will be disproportionate in the context of the scale of the development.

Location of Manhole TR02612701

4       Planning Balance

The site was rejected in the call for sites for the suspended Local Plan and is not allocated in the Neighbourhood Plan which is about to go to referendum.  The applicants Planning Statement sought approval claiming that Swale couldn’t substantiate a five year land supply. This was the case when submitted in March 2023.  Swale have now evidenced  a five year supply.  

Furthermore, the Levelling Up and  Regeneration Bill secured  Royal Assent at the end of last year. Local Authorities who have published a Regulation 18 or Regulation 19 Local Plan will now only be required to demonstrate a four-year housing land supply. The need to include a 5% buffer to support choice and competition in the market has also been removed. As a consequence, the tilted balance,  under the presumption in favour of sustainable development, which underpins their planning case is no longer engaged. The planning case has collapsed.

The application should be refused.

April 25, 2024

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