Questions regarding Chelmsford local plan after development land floods

Land which has been earmarked for around 250 homes in Chelmsford has been left knee deep in floodwater – calling into question the validity of the local plan.

Land around the Chelmer – close to where hundreds of homes are being planned, including 250 proposed by Hopkins Homes – was left deep  underwater after heavy rain last week.

While flooding did not significantly reach where the homes are being planned, it did flood an area being earmarked for a visitors centre and country park.

The East Chelmsford allocation land was designated for housing when the local plan was signed off earlier in the year.

Split into four areas – Redrow Homes has control of three sites and site 3a is controlled by Hopkins Homes.

These sites are collectively identified as delivering around 400 new homes, an early years childcare facility, land for the expansion of Sandon Park and Ride, a new country park and around 5,000sqm of employment space across the plan between 2013 to 2036.

However, recent flooding over the weekend has left some asking why it was ever allocated for development in the first place.

Dave Oldershaw, from the Great Baddow neighbourhood association group, said: “The weather was not that bad. We’ve had it worse. Yet they still want to go ahead and build there.

“How can you even think about justifying putting something there. And from a wildlife point of view all the ground dwelling creatures will be pushed by the development further down into the field that has been flooded.”

A spokesperson for Chelmsford City Council said: “It’s obviously extremely important not to build on areas with high flood risk and the council has engaged with the Environment Agency in the preparation of its local plan to avoid and manage flood risk.

“The Manor Farm site is quite large, so there may be some misunderstanding as to where the new homes would be built.

“Only part of the Manor Farm site has been designated for residential development in the local plan and this is uphill on the land closest to Maldon Road located in the lowest flood risk area.

“The wider Manor Farm site extends to the river valley floor which forms part of the functional floodplain, so it’s not unusual for that area to flood.

“As part of the new development, this area will be managed as flood meadow as part of a new natural country park.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter