Stapleton housing approved despite flooding concerns

The proposed housing site at Stapleton.

A Stapleton housing development overlooking a river has been approved, despite much of the site lying within an area with a one per cent chance of flooding in any year.

While the scheme to build five homes at Stapleton, near Darlington, split members of Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee, the majority of members said they were satisfied tests and regulations would prevent a catastrophic event at the site.

The meeting heard Environment Agency was satisfied with the flood resilience measures for the development, off the Barton to Stapleton road, near the A66.

Officers told members that although part of the site to be developed was within Flood Zone 2 – where there is up to a one per cent chance of flooding from the river in any year – the water level during a 1-in-100 event would be below the top of the embankment.

They added tests had identified the land below the site slope to be at “high risk of ground dissolution from gypsum dissolution” and slope stability issues could affect the garden areas rather than the buildings.

Agent for the applicant, Chris Megson, told the meeting land stability and flood risk studies had confirmed that the scheme was acceptable.

The committee’s chairman, Councillor Campbell Dawson, took the unusual step of stepping down from the role for the meeting to enable him to voice his concerns over the scheme.

Cllr Dawson said a visit to the site had revealed how most of the riverbank had been washed away by the river at Stapleton and villagers were strongly opposed to the scheme.

He said: “It is only going to get worse. At nearby Blackwell, when the river floods all the field gets flooded as well, so it’s just going to make it worse up there.”

Councillor Angie Dale added: “I know you can do some marvellous things on sites with flooding but if you look at the proximity of the river to the housing, how close does it have to be before it’s in your door? It goes too much into the flood risk area.”

After concerns were raised over the impact shoring up land at the site would have downstream, officers said the issue had been satisfied before the plan was recommended for approval.

Councillor Jamie Cameron said: “We can’t sit here and say flooding will never happen – it may well – but it is a risk that seems to have been reduced as much as humanly possible. I don’t think anyone ever wants new houses built in their village.”