A response from the Planning Inspectorate Tir Founder Fields, Cwmbach, Aberdare
Posted by Lewis on the 5th March 2020
The Planning Inspectorate,
23rd February 2020
Dear Ms Richards,
Reference: Appeal Ref: APP/L6940/A/08/2069580
Site address: Tir Founder Fields, Cwmbach, Aberdare CF44 0AH
With reference to the above decision by one of your officers to allow the above development at Tir Founder Fields in the full the knowledge that this development was sited on one of the major floodplains in Cynon Valley.
As a consequence of your administration allowing this development to proceed flooding has increased in sounding areas, Cwmbach has seen an increase in flooding and the only railway line is now flooded repeatedly when we get heavy rain a resulting in the cancellation of rail transport. I am informed Hammond (ECS) Ltd who have a unit in Cwmbach have had almost £25,000 worth on damage many business units keep getting flooded.
Your report said the “River Cynon is currently estimated at 116.19 metres above Ordnance Datum. However, it should be noted that although this information is considered the best available at the current time, levels may be subject to change in the future.” You inspector would have been aware of climate change and the expected increases in the volume of rainfall expected on the floodplain.
His report highlights the fact that there maybe flooding on the site as Condition 23 requires finished floor levels to be constructed a minimum of 600 mm above the theoretical 1 in 100-year flood level and all infrastructure, roads and car parking areas to be a minimum of 300 mm above the theoretical 1 in 100 years. It is obvious that the inspector feels concern about flooding on the development site but shows no concern for the displacement of floodwater that was obvious to all local residents and the history of the site itself.
Development should not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere; the volume of floodwater that was held in this catchment area is now directed in a purpose-built channel next to the rail line is this acceptable! Yes for the development, but not for the surrounding area and further down the valley.
There is a history of flooding in the area, as you would point out but not to the extent as it is occurring, Mountain Ash last the weekend so the return to the town historical flooding something that hasn’t occurred in that percentage for years, I am aware the weather was exceptional but again I return to the lost catchment area at Tir Founder Fields didn’t help the situation.
Groundwater has increased in the area since the development this is evident further up as a well-used public right of way and Cynon Trail keeps getting flooded.
There are other areas of land around Tir Founder Fields up for development again the areas are floodplain catchment areas if they are allowed to be developed (the ground rose) as the Persimmon Homes (Wales) Ltd site. Local residents will be looking at the prospect of even more flooding if they are given permission for the development.
I believe your department and the inspector made the wrong decision to allow development on what was a major floodplain in the Cynon Valley, a decision that is costing millions and will go no costing for years to come.
The resident of Cynon Valley would be grateful for your department’s observations on this, as the Welsh government has only committed around £10 million at the moment but no commitment in place to stop the flooding caused by your department's decision to allow building on the floodplain.
Attachments the floodplain at Tir Founder Fields
Below the response from the Planning Inspectorate
Tir Founder Fields, Cwmbach
I write further to your e mail addressed to Sarah Richards.
You refer to an appeal decision against Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council’s (RCT) refusal to approve details required by an outline planning permission previously granted by RCT in 2005 for 214 dwellings. You say that the Inspector ‘made the wrong decision to allow development on what was a major floodplain in the Cynon Valley’.
The matters before the Inspector at the appeal were the siting, design and external appearance of the buildings, landscaping and the means of access to the development. The principle of whether the site should be developed for housing was not before the Inspector. That had already been determined by the grant of outline planning permission by RCT in 2005 and was outside the Inspector’s remit.
I do not know whether the ‘purpose built channel next to the rail line’ is the flood relief channel referred to in paragraph 43 of the Inspector’s decision. He notes that the channel had not been constructed in accordance with the consent granted for it but also rightly says that this matter was outside his jurisdiction. Correcting any failings in this regard would be the responsibility of the consenting authority.
Flooding was a material consideration in this case but only insofar as it influenced the detailed construction on the site. As stated above the principle that Tir Founder Fields be developed for housing had been set by RCT in 2005. The Inspector was limited to considering the details before him and the planning permission granted by RCT could not be revoked by the Inspector.
The Inspector’s conclusion to approve the reserved matters was based on the expert evidence put before him at that time. None of what I say will be any comfort to anyone
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affected by the recent floods but I hope that the above explains that Inspector Jones was not responsible for the decision that Tir Founder Fields be developed for housing.
Head of Planning Inspectorate Wales.