Planning permission has been granted following an inquiry for a mixed use development including 1,138 homes, of which 341 would be affordable, in Heybridge, Maldon. The site is a major strategic allocation in the Maldon District Approved Local Development Plan, which was adopted in 2017. It is described by Maldon District Council as “the largest single contributor to meeting the objectively assessed needs of the District”. Despite the speedy release of the site for development being essential to the Development Plan’s strategy, the Council’s Planning Committee refused permission for the proposal contrary to officer advice on the basis of “insufficient evidence” regarding surface water drainage and flood risk. Permission was refused notwithstanding advice from Essex County Council, the Lead Local Flood Authority, that the surface water drainage strategy was appropriate and met all technical and policy requirements.
Whereas the original proposal by the Appellant had included a Flood Alleviation Scheme ("FAS") that would have introduced significant betterment in relation to pre-existing surface water drainage issues and flooding in the wider area, the FAS was removed from the proposal because the Environment Agency, who were envisaged as the body taking on the ownership and maintenance of the FAS, was not able to take on that responsibility. Following this turn of events, the Appellant amended the scheme to ensure that, despite the removal of the FAS, there would be no increased flood risk on or off site, and in fact the scheme would result in some betterment in the wider area in more significant rainfall events.
Following an Extraordinary Council meeting, the Council resolved not to defend its reason for refusal at the inquiry. In granting permission following the inquiry, the Inspector noted that the Appellant had proceeded in a reasonable manner throughout the process and that the approach taken to surface water drainage was in full compliance with the development plan.