Flooded Chesterfield householders launch lawsuit over homes built on floodplain
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Around 40 homes on Windermere Road were inundated when the Press Brook breached on October 20, sending a torrent of water down the residential street.
Homeowners lost everything as the floodwater reached depths of three feet or more in their living rooms and most are still living in hotels while awaiting repairs.
The gutted householders say if plans for 34 homes on a flood plain next to the brook had been scaled back by the council when they voiced flooding concerns two years ago their homes would never have been affected.
In the aftermath of the flooding Windermere Road resident Mark Allen has been pressing North East Derbyshire District Council for guarantees that remedial measures will be put in place to prevent another episode in future.
However, with no firm guarantees coming from the council, thirty flooded residents from Windermere Road, Clay Lane and Coniston Drive have committed to joining a lawsuit against the district council and Derbyshire County Council – the lead flood flood authority when the development was approved.
Mark said: "We are now in the process of seeking legal advice for a class action against all responsible for allowing the flood plain to be built on.
“We want something putting in place to ensure this never happens again.
"We feel that as a group we’ve got more clout to make them sit up and listen and do something than as individuals.”
Mark says on October 20 a field to the north of the Orchard development on Clay Lane flooded as usual.
However, because land on the development was built up higher than the plain, the water had “nowhere to go” apart from Windermere Road and left most homes there underwater.
In October 2021, when permission for the development had already been granted by the district council, Derbyshire County Council admitted a survey showing the chance of flooding exceeding recorded levels at the time was “one in 100” years was wrong.
Residents and local councillors appealed to the district council to revoke part of the permission for the site, however work had already begun and the council motion was denied.
North East Derbyshire District Council says an independent planning barrister had confirmed “in strong terms” it was not at fault in the way it had handled the application and the lead local flood authority (Derbyshire County Council) did not object to the application when planning permission was originally granted.
On Thursday this week residents are gathering at Holmgate Community Centre, having invited members of North East Derbyshire District Council and Derbyshire County Council, with hopes of a discussion about what measures will be put in place to prevent a recurrence.
A North East Derbyshire District Council spokesperson said: “Storm Babet brought unprecedented amounts of rainfall to the region and the subsequent flooding caused significant challenges to many residents and businesses in what continues to be a very difficult time for them.
To support flood victims we are actively reaching out to meet with residents on Thursday (November 16) to discuss preventative measures that can be put in place in the future and NEDDC is committed to working with Derbyshire County Council (the lead flood authority) to improve our information on flood risk areas and update our evidence for future planning activity.”
A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said it was continuing to do all it could to support people affected by flooding.
The spokesperson added: “This includes working with colleagues in other organisations to discuss preventative measures that can be put in place in the future.”