Seaford development on site at ‘high risk’ of flooding is approved

Fresh proposals to build housing in a “high risk” area of flooding in Seaford have been given the go ahead by Lewes planners.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 10:37 am

On Wednesday (June 9), Lewes District Council’s planning committee approved an application to build nine three-bedroom homes at Elm Court in Blatchington Road, the former site of the now demolished Seaford Youth Centre.

While the site has been granted planning permission in the past, these earlier schemes were deemed “undeliverable” due concerns around surface water flooding.

However, the committee heard how the new proposals had been drawn up to overcome this problem.

Designs of the proposed new Seaford homes
Designs of the proposed new Seaford homes

Senior planning officer Andrew Hill said: “A great deal of time has been spent with the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) in terms of trying to find a design that actually works. 

“What you have in front you tonight is a scheme for nine houses. The difference to previous schemes is that the houses are on three levels and the ground floor is actually sacrificial, it is built to allow flooding.”

As part of this design, bricks on the lower floor would be grated allowing flood water to pass through the buildings. This, Mr Hill said, was to prevent the houses from deflecting the flow of water from its current path; an issue which had been a major concern for the LLFA.

On top of this, all future occupants would also be issued with information packs, which would draw attention to flood risk and instructions on how to react in response to flood warnings. This document would be reviewed every year.

Proposed site layout

While these drainage plans were considered acceptable by planning officers, the proposals had seen some significant opposition from local residents. 

Particular concerns were raised by Seaford Bowling Club, whose members argued the drainage plans could lead to contaminated sewer water flooding onto its green.

Speaking on behalf of the club, Peter Neal said: “In extreme rainfall conditions, the combined sewer in Blatchington Road backs up and discharges through manholes and goes on to the road surface, eventually finding its way on to the Elm Court site. 

“The design solution from the applicant is to fix the site levels so as to actively divert this contaminated water on to the Seaford Bowling Green site.

“The Seaford Bowls Club site is not part of the application and therefore should not provide a solution to a planning problem especially as the contaminated water could provide a public health hazard.”

This argument was disputed by officers, however, who said the drainage plans were considered necessary and would reduce the total run-off from the site from its current setup.

As well as fears around the flooding and drainage, objectors had raised a number of other concerns about the proposals, including its appearance and impact on both parking and local roads.

Objections have also been raised by Seaford Town Council over the design of the proposed buildings. Officers said the design – particularly their three-storey height – would have an impact on the flood prevention works.

Despite concerns, committee members largely felt assured by the plans and approved the scheme subject to conditions. It was approved seven votes to one.

For further information on the proposals see application reference LW/20/0799 on the Lewes District Council website.