Residents’ anger over Dalton Gates holiday park plan

The entrance to the proposed holiday complex site at Dalton Gates.

Residents of a hamlet which have been beset by flooding and raw sewage issues have voiced their anger over proposals to build a holiday park beside their homes, saying it would exacerbate their misery.

A Richmondshire District Council planning meeting saw residents queue up to detail how their homes and gardens had been flooded seven times in the last eight months alone and how the regular inundations had been compounded by sewers backing up.

Calling for answers from water firms over why the community was being impacted by sewage and flooding so regularly, Councillor Angie Dale, the authority’s leader, said the issues needed resolving and compared the proposal to building “38 mini houses”.

The meeting heard claims Ward Leisure’s plan to launch a 38-caravan site near Croft Circuit, south of Darlington would mean up to 150 holiday-makers at any one time, and that the visitors and development itself would place further strain on a system that was already failing and speed-up run-off that would merge with sewage.

Residents described how they had been left unable to use their toilets and despite appealing to Yorkshire Water to solve the issue had suffered from appalling smells and unsanitary debris washed up on their properties.

Resident Nicola Preston told members how cars aquaplaned through the village and the flooding had become more regular since August, when one home became flooded with sewage, which was put down to a malfunctioning pumping station.

She said the system was unable to cope with the volume of water, which led to pressurised water coming back up out of the manholes.

Miss Preston said: “The village has flooded seven times over the past eight months and the flooding is getting significantly worse with time.

“Given this is 2020, we live in a developed country and the floodwater is contaminated with raw sewage, it’s totally unacceptable. Raw sewage can kill. It shows a total failure of the infrastructure within Dalton Gates.”

Speaking for Ward Leisure, Rod Hepplewhite, of Prism Planning, said tourism was becoming increasingly important to the economy and that a caravan site in the area would offer a cheaper alternative to staying in guest houses, holiday cottages or hotels.

He said the proposal would bring the redundant site back into beneficial use and had been found to be acceptable by the council’s planning officers.

While planning officers said the flood authority would hold the developers to a condition to ensure it did not aggravate issues of flooding, councillors postponed making a decision on the plan, saying they wanted to inspect the site for themselves, and also raised concerns over road safety and the lack of plans for a warden at the park to manage visitors.

A Yorkshire Water spokesman said: “We appreciate that any type of flooding can be unpleasant. We’re still investigating the cause of the flooding but in the meantime we’ve been doing some work to clean out the sewer system. We still have some more work to do as part of the investigation and we’ll be liaising closely with the affected customers until we get to the bottom of it.”