'Housing development must be scrapped to stop further flooding' say angry residents in Harborough

Fed-up residents have told council chiefs to scrap a new Market Harborough estate altogether unless the developer behaves.

Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 1:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 1:58 pm
Kingston Way residents at the entrance of the David Wilson site. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

They have accused the controversial Burnmill Farm site – being built by David Wilson Homes – of repeatedly flooding their gardens and streets and making their lives hell.

Harborough District Council has now put a temporary stop notice on the under-fire 128-home scheme at the top of Kingston Way.

They acted amid growing fears for the environment, local people and wildlife such as endangered great crested newts.

David Wilson site. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

The directors of Coalville-based David Wilson face being fined up to £20,000 if they are taken to court.

But Gwen Compton, 58, of Kingston Way, told the Harborough Mail: “This is too little too late.

“The council’s only acted now because we’ve spoken to the Mail.

“We’ve complained about David Wilson breaching planning conditions for five or six months but nothing was done.”

She said the builder had stripped the site of top soil and vegetation and should have built a proper haul access road at the start.

“We’ve now got contractors digging up our road twice over to put in gas and electricity,” said Gwen, a member of Burnmill Farm Action Group.

“They should be able to lay all the mains in one trench all in one go.

“This is fast turning into a nightmare set to continue well into 2020.

“David Wilson is riding roughshod over us.

“The council’s got to go nuclear and stop this estate full stop unless the developer’s whipped back into line.”

Action group chairman John Gilding and deputy chairman Mike Major also slammed David Wilson in a letter to the Mail this week.

They said: “It took four months of constant requests to the council to take action to enforce the planning conditions.

“The Harborough Mail taking an interest saw action actually happen.

“Perhaps it was just coincidental.

“We also welcome the apology of David Wilson Homes, but flooding occurred after the remedial work described in your article was carried out.”

They added: “Furthermore the resurfacing, widening and use of the farm track were all in direct contravention of the advice and restrictions required by the Principal Ecologist of Leicester County Council when planning permission was given.

“Nevertheless these restrictions were totally ignored by the developer.”

Cllr Phil King, leader of Harborough council, said: “We are making sure that David Wilson Homes do as they should.

“I do empathise with the residents.

“One of our enforcement team will be going up to the site every day to check what they are doing.”

A council spokesman said: “Harborough District Council has issued a temporary stop notice to David Wilson Homes, ordering them to cease the use of a farm access track to access the development work on the land at Burnmill Farm.

“An enforcement officer visited the site on Wednesday 20 November 2019 and issued the temporary stop notice in connection with unauthorised use of the farm access track and to prevent harm to nearby residential amenity and harm to endangered species, such as Great Crested Newts, which are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.”

He added: “David Wilson Homes must now cease to use the unauthorised route.

“Failure to comply could result in prosecution in the magistrates’ court and a maximum penalty of £20,000.”

A spokesman for David Wilson Homes East Midlands said: “Whilst facilitating the required archaeological works at our Burnmill Grange site, the completion of the haul road was paused but we are working closely with the Harborough District Council to ensure this is accessible by the end of February.

“Our development is under the supervision of our consultant ecologist who has assured the local authorities that our use of the track has had no ecological impact.”

He added: “Both our site team and key contractors have been reminded of the approved construction traffic route - and the appropriate action will be taken against those failing to comply with the plans.

“We have also installed two temporary ponds, drainage trenches and ensured the silt fences are working efficiently to reduce surface run-off in adverse weather conditions.

“We will remain proactive and monitor the situation moving forwards.

“We would like to thank the local residents for their patience and we are doing everything we can to ensure this matter is resolved efficiently.”