Developers are determined to build homes on the Chester flood plain even though previous schemes have been refused planning permission.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) planning department has informed councillors that Bark Street Investments is pursuing a High Court legal challenge after the Secretary of State refused consent for 142 homes on Clifton Drive playing fields off Sealand Road.
On the opposite side of Clifton Drive, an application for up to 130 homes by Bloor Homes and Sealand Commercial Properties (SCP) Limited was refused in February but is now being appealed.
And developers Astu, who are in partnership with SCP Ltd, are now targeting the same land with a larger 280-home scheme but also improved flood protection and a proposed public park.
The Friends of North Chester Greenbelt campaign group opposes all three projects and is ‘even more worried’ by Astu’s latest plan because of the number of properties involved.
Spokesman Andy Scargill, who gave evidence at the Bark Street public inquiry which rejected building on the flood plain, said: “This should have been an end to it but unfortunately, it demonstrates weaknesses within the national planning system whereby those with enough money can seek to overturn such decisions.
“The number of communities across the country affected by flooding last winter should have been a wake-up call regarding building on flood plains but where greed is the main driver this doesn’t appear to matter with some building firms.”
The latest developers to submit plans on land to the west of Clifton Drive, Astu Group, have written to neighbouring Sealand Road residents about their plans.
Company chairman Patrick Davies wrote: “Astu Group has filed for detailed planning permission to create Ogilvie Park, Chester’s first public park since the creation of Grosvenor Park in 1867. The new park, which is designed around a lake, is of the same size as Grosvenor Park and similarly will be open to everyone.”
He added: “Family homes are in great shortage in Chester and the wider Cheshire area, so as part of the park, Astu is proposing to build 112 generous four-bedroom houses, and 28 two-bedroom houses. These will be available for private rental on generous three year rolling tenancies with fixed rental increases.
“We also propose 140 one and two-bedroom apartments, to be eligible under the Government’s Help to Buy scheme and sold preferentially to first time buyers.”
Mr Davies concedes flooding has become even more of an issue since the CWaC-commissioned Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SRFA) was updated in March this year.
He continued: “As part of the scheme and Astu’s desire to assist the wider community, Astu will be tackling the flood defence issue and therefore has had designed a flood protection system from an independent body, Black & Veatch, that would secure the Sealand area from flooding for a 1 in 1,000 year event. This would be the highest standard of flood protection that the Environment Agency applies nationally, and would be achieved by the proposed scheme’s peripheral layout.”
Concerned Sealand Road resident Keith Jones said: "This is a flood plain. This is a bigger flood plain than the original site."
His neighbour Ali Mason commented: "They're going to build a Butlins. I love Butlins. But this will be three-storeys high, no parking and there will be a refuge site. It will attract rats and vermin."