Development gets council’s backing

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a 300-home development in Filey have been passed – despite massive unrest from councillors over flooding fears.

Scarborough Council planning officials approved the 16-hectare development off Muston Road even though its own drainage experts were disappointed by Yorkshire Water’s report into flood safeguarding on the site.

The proposals, from Redcar-based Coast and Country, include 180 properties for sale on the open market and 120 affordable homes for social rent and shared ownership in 39 different bespoke styles.

Under the current plans, surface water would be drained down Martins Ravine and through a separate outfall on the beach, with foul water feeding into an existing but upgraded sewer system under the Seadale estate.

However, councillors were wary to avoid a repeat of the Filey floods in 2002 and 2007 which devastated the Seadale estate area of the town, but said the feasibility report gave no sound assurances.

Cllr Jane Mortimer, chairman of the authority’s planning committee, said she intended to complain to Yorkshire Water about their shortfall of information.

And furious Filey councillors added the plans should not be shoe-horned into fruition simply because Coast and Country risk losing £2.5m funding from the Homes and Communities Agency if full planning permission is not obtained by March.

The meeting heard from Rod Bull, speaking on behalf of Coast and Country, who told councillors the development would provide Filey with greater flooding defences and bring much-needed affordable housing to the area.

He added: “Any decision to the contrary would be like throwing the baby out with the bath water, or should I say flood water.”

However, Cllr David Murton, chairman of Filey Town Council, countered the argument and said there was no obvious need for such large-scale housing.

He said: “There is great haste to try and put this application through and that is because of the affordable funding from the government.

“I do not believe that this a case for planners, I believe they look at good planning.

“On the history of drainage in Filey the planners have listened to Yorkshire Water but I have no confidence in it at all. That is why I say we should wait until March until the proper study has been done.”

Cllr Sam Cross, a long standing critic of the proposals, also spoke at the meeting and said any development would cause massive problems for the town.

He said: “I stated eight years ago that this area would flood. The houses were built and in 2007 the inevitable happened and people’s homes and lives were ruined.

“Martins Ravine was ripped up by the current of water and closed over the summer causing great problems to locals and businesses.

“The report doesn’t answer whether there will be any scouring on the beach or about the stability of the ravine which is still moving.

“The only question that has been answered is that they can fit a 250 litre pipe that will take the water.

“There is various geo-technical information that goes back over 12 years and when I tried to contact the companies behind the information I found they no longer exist.

“The officers have said to Coast and Country to get the drainage right because it is important to the people of Filey but they have not addressed the number one concern in 12 months.

“I have not spoken to one resident in Filey in favour, they are all against it.”

“The infrastructure of the town cannot cope with a development this size and the doctor’s surgery cannot cope with the people in Filey and would not have the space or capacity for 1,000 extra people.”

Cllr Mike Cockerill, chairman of Filey Flood Working Group and the Stakeholders Group looking into the proposals, echoed Cllr Cross’ concerns.

He added: “When plans were first announced for a development on the land I stated then that Filey did not need such a large number of houses and should not suffer from the diktat of Westminster and I spoke of the residents’ concerns over flooding.

“However, as soon as the planning inspector made her decision, members to an extent, had their hands tied and the best form of action was to work with the developers and get the best for Filey.

“Having said that many concerns remain about the sewage and drainage and I am disappointed in the lack of content in the feasibility study from Yorkshire Water.

“The decision that you make is vital for Filey.”

Cllr Colin Haddington - who voted against the development - said he could see benefits from the scheme but reiterated the disappointment over the lack of flooding information.

He said: “It builds on the infrastructure and a development of this size will actually bring in great positives for the town.

“However, I am very disappointed that we are discussing such a major decision without a detailed report and we cannot go away feeling like we have protected the people of Filey.”

Cllr Mick Jay-Hanmer - who was the only other councillor to vote against the development - said the proposals were unfeasable.

He added: “We have been down this road before with this and having spoken to people in Filey I know they do not want this at all.”

Speaking after the announcement, Cllr Cross added: “I’m absolutely gutted for the people of Filey over the decision by Scarborough Council. It amazes me that the drainage report that was discussed was not passed to the members of the committee.

“There are issues over drainage that are still unresolved and we are now in a cliff-hanging situation with regards to future flooding.

“They talk about localism but have not respected the wishes of the people nor the parish council.”