Developer says it has addressed 'contaminated' water run-off at Lancaster housing site

Residents in Bowerham and the leader of Lancaster City Council have raised concerns that excessive water flows from a new housing development have ended up in local watercourses.
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A video recorded on January 20 shows sandy or silty water running along roads and watercourses in the Bowerham Lane area.

Residents say they have been raising concerns about the impact of the Oakmere Homes development currently under construction for some time.

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The development - called The Paddocks - comprises 34 new homes.

Dirty water from site enters a watercourse in the Bowerham Lane area.Dirty water from site enters a watercourse in the Bowerham Lane area.
Dirty water from site enters a watercourse in the Bowerham Lane area.

Planning permission was granted in July 2020.

Andrew Egerton, from the South Lancaster Flood Action Group, said last week as heavy rain hit the district: "Widely observed this week was the flow of contaminated surface water flowing off this site into the highway drainage system and into watercourses.

"Despite residents raising concerns for some time it took the first hand observation and intervention of Coun Erica Lewis, leader of Lancaster City Council, for this to be noted by city council planning and Lancashire County Council as Lead Local Flood Authority and for the developer to be told to take action.

"Elsewhere overflowing manholes and blocked highway drains have been reported and require addressing to prevent further flooding."

Water running from the site.Water running from the site.
Water running from the site.
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Coun Dr Erica Lewis, leader of Lancaster City Council, said that the problems on Bowerham Lane highlight many of the problems with how water is managed by the national planning system.

She said: "We know there are problems with the drains in that area, but every developer has a right to connect and United Utilities says it doesn’t have the resources to bring our outdated drainage system up-to-date.

"We know Burrow Beck is already regularly overwhelmed, but rather than requiring new development to hold and slow water, the national rules say ‘no more, no faster’ which at best leaves the problem unaddressed and many of us fear actually just makes the problem worse.

"The government desperately needs to take flooding, water management and the climate emergency seriously.

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"That means investing in resilience, better resourcing councils and changing policy frameworks so they help rather than hinder.”

It is understood that since the matter was reported, straw bales have been put in place at the site in an attempt to stem and clean the flow of water.

Mark Wilkinson, operations director at Oakmere, said: "Following the recent storm event and silty water running off site, we have had site meetings with both the planners and the EA and both parties confirm that they are happy with the works that we have done on site."

A spokesperson for Lancaster City Council said: "Lancaster City Council has liaised with other statutory authorities regarding the situation at Bowerham Lane, including Lancashire County Council (in their role as the Local Lead Flood Authority and the highway authority), United Utilities, and the Environment Agency.

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"These authorities are aware of the current situation, where excessive water flows have been recorded in the local vicinity.

"In addition, the city council has also been providing on-site support to try to resolve the issues.

"The developer has responded positively to this and has worked with the city council to incorporate a series of additional measures within the site to alleviate the situation.

"Work will continue whilst the developer installs the relevant site infrastructure."