Published: 08:52, 19 November 2020
| Updated: 16:17, 19 November 2020
Flooding in Staplehurst is only likely to get worse when 250 new homes are built, according to the parish council.
After downpours submerged roads in Marden Road over the weekend, the authority believes the vulnerable area will be put at further risk because of a lack of action on drainage and sewage issues.
The overwhelmed system, it says, has not been helped by the approval of 190 new homes off the road. Some 50 have already been built but the Local Plan allows for up to 250.
The original outline planning permission was given on the assumption the drainage would go via Lodge Road, but instead homes have been connected to the system in Marden Road, which is already working at full capacity.
The parish council is now demanding urgent talks with Maidstone Borough Council, developers David Wilson Homes and Southern Water.
In a statement online the parish council said: “In the past few days, residents in properties along Marden Road have been badly affected by foul and surface water flooding.
“The parish council takes no pleasure in saying to Maidstone Borough Council, Southern Water and David Wilson Homes, ‘We told you so’.
“We have long pressed for action to address the shortcomings of the existing drainage infrastructure on Marden Road and of the drainage plans for Hen and Duckhurst Farm at Dickens Gate.
“When approving the proposals, MBC has acted on advice from Southern Water which has an obligation to deliver the approved infrastructure - unfortunately, all too frequently, delivery of such infrastructure lags behind construction of the homes.
“It is a source of great frustration to the parish that decision-makers have ignored its considered opinions and proposed solutions based on its local knowledge of what really happens in Staplehurst, leaving us all as villagers to suffer the consequences.”
Helen Grant MP is calling for an urgent meeting with the head of Southern Water. She said: “I am deeply worried about the situation with flooding on Marden Road in Staplehurst.
“I also recognise the deep concerns held by many local people about the impact that adding 250 more homes into the sewage system might have given its continued failure to cope.
“I fear that our concerns are continuing to fall on deaf ears.
“There seems to be a lack of joined up thinking from Southern Water and a total absence of real action to improve the situation.
“I have therefore written again to Ian McAuley, CEO of Southern Water, to ask that he meets urgently, ideally this week, with me alongside residents and representatives from Staplehurst Parish Council.
“It is about time that our concerns were properly listened to and addressed rather being continually kicked into the long grass at the expense of Staplehurst residents.”
In response to Staplehurst Parish Council Paul Kitchingman, Managing Director at David Wilson Homes Kent, said: “There was sufficient sewage capacity for our new homes at Dickens Gate, as confirmed by both the local authority and by Southern Water, when planning for the development was approved.
"The recent heavy rain has unfortunately resulted in the public sewer system becoming backed up, leading to some localised flooding.
"We are very sympathetic to those that have been affected by the recent rainfall, and would encourage anyone to contact Environmental Health and Southern Water to help to resolve the issue.
"David Wilson Homes is investigating whether there are any other additional measures that we are able to take that will assist Southern Water in resolving their issue.”
Southern Water spokesperson said: “Flooding can be a distressing issue and we’re sorry for anyone impacted.
"It is also a complex area and different agencies have different responsibilities.
"Due to the geography of the area, we conduct regular surveys of our sewers to ensure they are operating properly and use high pressure jets to clear any partial blockages.
"In extreme rain fall the system operates close to its limits and on occasion we use tankers and pumps to manage flows and ensure we can continue providing wastewater services to customers.
"We have initiated a growth scheme to accommodate the new development which is being constructed.
"This consists of installing a storage tank and should be completed next year.
"We are also investigating what further reinforcement may be required for the wider area, to accommodate anymore future development.
"We remain in close contact with council officials and other agencies to ensure our response is to extreme weather is coordinated and correctly targeted. ”