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A positive way to new development

April 17, 2014

In my last planning meeting last week we were considering a reserved matters application for a development on the Greenfield Corridor for which, after a long hard battle against the development, Outline Planning Permission had been granted on appeal in 2013.

The group of objector, who had fought the application from the beginning, was back again and their determination and expertise about the site and its possible problems was impressive. One of the main reasons of objection to the new application was the danger of flooding and the rather superficial solutions the developer of the site was proposing.

After this last soggy winter the danger of flooding should be an issue that every developer and every Local Authority should pay close attention to. Without going into the detail the issue was not about flood risks for the new properties but the impact on the existing houses and the likelihood that those houses would be under greater risk of flooding. From detailed research, that the group provided, it was pretty clear that this was exactly what was going to happen.

However the ‘problem’ is that those houses have already seen episodes of flooding- therefore the developer was able to argue that it was not their responsibility to do anything about it and in future it will be hard to demonstrate that the increased flood risk for the existing houses is a result of the new development rather than of climate change and a general increase in freak weather.

I was frustrated by the cavalier attitude of the developer towards existing residents and their genuine plight. We all understand that we need more homes and I welcome good development that extend and enhance our communities in a positive way. It was clear that a solution to reduce the flood risk for both the existing estate and the new development was possible, but the developer was not interested because there was no legal obligation to do so.

It appears to me that if developers changed their general attitude and approached new development by having a positive and meaningful dialogue from the outset with existing residents, a lot of confrontation and delays could be avoided. But it needs the will to work together and sometimes to walk the extra mile and to do things that are beyond what is legally required.

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