Experts criticised for getting their sewage sums wrong

A HOUSING developer, Yorkshire Water and Council officers were all criticised for “not doing their homework” over a housing estate being built in Clayton.

Barratt Homes was granted planning permission to build a new estate of 100 homes off Holts Lane in the village in late 2017.

Work on the site is continuing, and around a third of the houses are occupied.

But the scheme came back before a planning panel at a recent meeting due to an issue over the site’s sewage.

During the discussion the development came under heavy criticism from members of the public and Councillors.

Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee were discussing the application at a meeting on Thursday after Barratt Homes submitted a request to alter one of the condition of the planning application.

The condition was that the “peak pumped foul water discharge” (sewage) from the development must not exceed 4 litres per second.

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A number of the houses on the site have already been occupied, and Barratt had encountered issues due to the condition, including reports of toilets backing up.

The company applied to alter the condition so 5 litres of foul water could be discharged a second.

Despite the seemingly mundane nature of the application, it led to a fiery debate in the meeting.

Councillor Carol Thirkill (Lab, Clayton and Fairweather Green) said residents had raised concerns about the amount of water that would need to be pumped from the site ever since it was first proposed.

She said: “I’ve been asked by residents to express their grave concerns that have been there from the very beginning.

“I want to know why this wasn’t sorted from the beginning.

“The site is only a third occupied, and they are already coming back to the Council to ask for an increase in the amount they can pump from the site. It’s diabolical.

“These were issues we predicted would happen. If there are already issues with just a third of houses occupied, where is it going to stop? I know this is going to be passed, but residents want you to know that local people know their own area. You need to ask the right questions if you want the right answers.”

Officers said the changes proposed in the application would alleviate the problems on the site.

When asked what would happen if they refused the scheme, officers said the site would likely still be completed, but that its residents would be left with sub-standard drainage.

Councillor Mohammed Amran (Lab, Heaton) said: “I think this company is going to end up coming back for more alterations to the plans. It’s not fair on residents. As an authority we should be careful about granting planning without doing our homework.”

Officers assured him the scheme had been considered by Council flooding experts and Yorkshire Water.

One Clayton resident, Angela Hamilton, said: “Experts from the developers, Bradford Council and Yorkshire Water determined the necessary requirements.

“How did all of them get their calculations so wrong?”

Councillor Alan Wainwright (Lab, Tong), said: “Whatever question we ask officers, they come back to say ‘the experts say its ok’, but clearly the experts got it wrong in the first place. I’m not happy with how this application has come back to us.”

Members asked why drainage officers were not at the meeting, and they were told they were at another meeting in Leeds.

Chair Councillor David Warburton (Lab, Wyke) said: “At the end of the day I think we have to approve this, but I have great concerns over how this has been dealt with.

“I don’t want to refuse this because of the problems it will cause to the new residents there. We were assured last time that everything was correct, and we’ve been assured again. I hope this solves the problem.

“If this was a normal application I’d recommend refusal, but this is different because people are already living on the site.

“I would have major concerns should anything else for this site come forward in the future.”

The alteration to the plans was then approved.

Earlier this month Barratt Homes were refused retrospective planning permission for a number of signs advertising the housing development that had been installed without permission.