Flood management experts have called for a plan to build 127 homes on a hill above Leyburn to be reconsidered, saying the development could exacerbate flooding issues.
North Yorkshire County Council officers working as the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) said Yorvik Homes scheme at Leyburn, which would be among the rural area’s largest ever housing estates, should be rejected unless the developer identified an alternative run-off destination for surface water.
The recommendation is likely to at least delay the progress of the plan which has divided Leyburn’s 2,100 residents between those who believe it will bring fresh impetus and a critical mass of residents for improved services and others who fear it will spoil the town’s character and lead to services being overwhelmed.
An extraordinary meeting of a market town’s council over the development in June heard residents also raise concerns the development could cause a repeat of the flooding in July last year which left numerous homes in the town inundated.
However, the site, where a mix of 40 two-bed houses, 44, three bed-houses, 19 four-bed houses, 12 two-bed bungalows and one three-bed bungalows are planned has been earmarked for development in the local plan, despite it being close to numerous steep, narrow watercourses.
In its blueprint submitted with the application, the developer said Yorkshire Water had confirmed there are no surface water sewers available for
the surface water to drain to.
It stated plots on the site had been identified where it would be possible to use soakaways and that discharge to Whipperdale Beck was considered the best way to manage surface water from the development along with storage tanks on the site.
However, in response, the LLFA said the plan to manage surface run-off with soakaways was not suitable due to shallow fractured bedrock and a number of springs as groundwater emerges on to the surface.
It stated: “Given the site’s location, and the presences of exposed bedrock in parts, any discharge to the ground increases the risk of groundwater emergence downslope.”
The LLFA added plans to discharge surface water from the site to Whipperdale Beck would increase its flow as the proposed site does not fall within the beck’s catchment.
The LLFA documents also highlight Leyburn was among the worst affected areas in the July 2019 Yorkshire Dales floods, with high numbers of properties internally flooded and significantly damaged.
It states: “We identified in the investigation that there are significant issues in Leyburn with run-off off the moors.”
The LLFA’s report into the floods concluded to tackle flood risk in Leyburn, the name of which it pointed out means ‘clearing by the stream’, water would need to be held back in attenuation areas during extreme rainfall and natural measures to slow run-off be implemented.