Our drains can't take the strain

First published in News

BUILDING on Romsey’s green fields should be halted until major problems with the town’s Victorian drainage system are resolved.

That’s the view of Romsey MP, Caroline Nokes, who is battling to get major problems with the drains sorted out following the Christmas and New Year floods which left homes, roads, fields, railway lines and other property under water.

Her warning came in the same week that Test Valley Borough Councillors voted through the Revised Draft local Plan, which could see 1,300 homes built on farmland at Whitenap, large parts of which have been under water this week.

Heavy rainfall overwhelmed storm drains and sewers sending water into homes and businesses in the town.

Ms Nokes has taken the matter up with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson.

The Conservative MP said greenfield development was putting pressure on drainage infrastructure dating back to the 19th century.

The secretary of state acknowledge this was “a very important point,” said Ms Nokes.

She added “With responsibility for managing floods split between Hampshire County Council, the Environment Agency and Southern Water, all of whom worked so hard over the past two weeks, the Government must now give assurances that new development would not be granted permission until it is proven there is a sufficient drainage capacity, which is exceptionally relevant to towns like Romsey.”

Ms Nokes’s views are shared by Test Valley Borough councillor, Ian Hibberd, who has already called for a stop to building work at the 850-home Abbotswood village after water run-off from the site flooded properties at nearby Cupernham on Christmas Eve for the second festive season on the trot.

On Wednesday, Hampshire County Council announced that it was launching a formal investigation into flooding in the Romsey area.

Hampshire is appointing independent technical experts to investigate the causes.

County leader, Roy Perry, said: “Local residents are understandably worried about the flooding which has occurred this winter. We’ve had incidences in Winchester Road and The Causeway, and there are concerns about water coming off the Abbotswood development at Cupernham and incidents of flooding there.

“I’ve asked the director of environment of the county council, Stuart Jarvis, to arrange for this work to be undertaken by independent experts as soon as possible, so that, at the very least, we will have initial findings which we can use to inform any urgent work to be carried out.

“Once the findings are complete, these independent reports will be put in the public domain so that the local community can see what the issues are, what needs to be done, and who will be responsible for doing it.”

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