Last week, the construction fences around the open meadow area on the east side of the Abbotts Walk site came down. The play area isn’t due to be built for another year, as the site has to be handed over to Winchester Council yet (details here). However, we do seem to have a Duck Pond, where a dry infiltration basin should be!
The infiltration basin consists of a large underground soakaway that takes the surface water from roads and roofs across the development. The basin itself should only fill up if there is an extreme storm event. Our basin has had water in it since December, so may have been silted up with construction dirt or not been constructed as designed.
This seems to be a problem on 2 fronts, the obvious one being safety if there is to be a children’s play area a few metres away. There are some thorns/nettles around the perimeter, but they don’t go all the way round and still quite small. The second problem is that if it is decided to excavate and ‘clean’ the basin at a later point, will it be charged to the initial construction cost or as a maintenance cost by The Abbotts Walk Management Company and onwards to residents?
3rd issue, as the basin is part filled already, it won’t have the capacity required to come with the flooding event, maybe not even a 1 in 30yr? So surface water would flow in to the Itchen and down towards the city. Wondering if the Environment Agency need to be aware.
What to do?
If you’re happy with a duck pond, all is well, otherwise:
Raise a planning complaint to Winchester City Council, where they have a compliance officer who is monitoring the site.
After recent dealings with the council, it’s best if as many people as possible could raise the issue, individual complaints don’t appear to get much attention.
The complaint can be raised by email, here’s a template if you’re short on time, but it’s also best if they are individually written than all to the same template. Here are some pointers:
firstname.lastname@example.org (WCC Planning Department)
email@example.com (Dominic Hiscock, Ward Councillor)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim Maynard, Ward Councillor)
Planning Enforcement Complaint – Land at Francis Gardens, Winchester, SO23 – Infiltration Basin
In the Landscape Management Compartment Plan submitted as part of the application reference 11/01798/FUL, the drainage feature in the Eastern open space of this site is detailed as a Dry infiltration Basin. This feature has contained a significant level of water since December 2013 and has recently been made accessible to the public.
This is further detailed in the Flood Risk Assessment that formed part of the original planning application 08/1937/FUL. Section 9.3.6 reads:
The infiltration swale/basin feature has been sized so as to provide storage for the excess flow over the 1 in 30 year event, up to and including the 1 in 100 year plus climate change event. This
feature which is intended to remain dry, but in the extremists of events (1 in 100 year plus 30% allowance for climate change), will store an additional 225m3 without overflowing
The current basin constitutes an immediate safety risk, whilst there is the beginnings of a vegetative barrier, it is incomplete and there is a steep slope 1/5 gradient into the basin. (RoSPA guidance indicates fencing may be required where there is a steep slope)
The original plans for this area included a children’s play area in the open space, and whilst not on the current plans, a S106 payment has been made to Winchester City Council to build a play area on site once it has been transferred to the council. This poses an obvious risk if the basin is not corrected to perform as planned.