Flood plain homes dilute Mereham fight

PUBLISHED: 12:37 30 August 2007 | UPDATED: 12:46 04 May 2010

CAMPAIGNERS pinning their hopes on the fact that the Mereham new town project will be defeated on flooding grounds could find their objections won t hold water. Developer Multiplex wants to build 5,000 new homes close to a flood plain between the villages

CAMPAIGNERS pinning their hopes on the fact that the Mereham new town project will be defeated on flooding grounds could find their objections won't hold water.

Developer Multiplex wants to build 5,000 new homes close to a flood plain between the villages of Wilburton and Stretham.

Objectors hoped that the scheme would fail because the homes could be prone to flooding as climate change brings prolonged periods of heavy rain and drought.

But an expert in the field claims greater pressure to build new homes will lead to more development on the flood plains with sustainable drainage to protect those homes.

Roland Grzybek, a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, said: "The pressure is on with a growing population and people living longer to provide homes where people can live in areas which might appear to be locally unacceptable.

"The developer must integrate into these developments sustainable drainage systems - balancing ponds, valleys and flood defences - to ensure the development is not an excessive flood risk. Water would be stored on the development, creating exactly the same situation as a nice green field site, and not running straight into the water course.

"The developer has a duty to ensure that the long-term flood risk to these properties and those upstream and downstream is no greater than anywhere else in similar circumstances.

"We are trying to balance both sets of needs. We are much more informed and knowledgeable about the amount of flood risk there is.

"But if we were to defend against every flood risk, the River Thames would be three miles wide with three feet high walls."

This is worrying news for campaigners fighting to beat the Mereham new town proposal at a planning inquiry in October.

It comes on top of a Government green paper which pushes for more homes in rural areas.

Campaigners fear that East Cambridgeshire residents are complacent about the threat of the new town.

Witchford Parish Council has called a public meeting to discuss the issues and provide a forum for information.

The meeting will take place at St Andrew's Hall at 6.30pm on Wednesday, September 5 and will be followed by the parish council meeting at 7.30pm.

INFO: Say No To Mereham car stickers and posters are available at some shops and post offices in Witchford, Haddenham, Wilburton, Stretham and Sutton and at the Ely Standard at 38 Market Street, Ely.

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