A house builder is prosecuted for breaching planning conditions over a ‘not fit for purpose’ sewage system, and is landed with… wait for it – a £1,000 fine.
What a crap (every pun intended) planning system we have when failure to provide an adequate sewage system – or rather a system ‘not fit for purpose’ – only results in a £1,000 fine!
South Staffordshire District Council took Cheshire-based Morris Homes to court over the problem at its 32-home Salters Meadow development in the village of Cheslyn Hay near Walsall.
A condition of the original 2012 permission was that a foul drainage and surface water drainage system was to first be submitted for approval by the council.
According to the council, Morris Homes installed a sewage pumping station at the site in 2014, saying it was a temporary solution, but a year later the company submitted plans to the authority to make the station permanent.
The council refused this application, and its decision was backed by the Planning Inspectorate in June 2018 after an unsuccessful appeal by the housebuilder.
In his decision, the planning inspector said that when the first properties were occupied in 2014, the system was still not connected to the mains, and that “foul and surface water flows were periodically tankered away instead”.
No doubt the residents of Alfold- the Waverley village on the Surrey Sussex border will recognise this activity. As tankers regularly relieve their sewage system.
Even with the pumping station installed, the inspector took the view that the drainage system had “a number of features which indicate it would not provide a satisfactory means of drainage”, and that the original planning condition had therefore not been met.
In a statement describing the drainage system as “not fit for purpose”, the council said that at Cannock Magistrates’ Court on 27 April, the company admitted not complying with a breach of condition order and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay the council’s costs and a £100 victim surcharge.
The council’s corporate director of planning and infrastructure Annette Roberts said: “The company has been far too slow to install a proper sewage system on this housing estate, even after it lost an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, but we are determined to see this through to a successful conclusion on behalf of our residents.
“It’s a great pity that the council have had to follow the legal process this way. However, the company has now submitted two alternative drainage and sewage schemes which we will now be considering.”
Salters Meadow resident Andrew Dodd said:
“Morris Homes has shown a complete lack of regard for residents over the years and still do. Bowser tanks regularly visit to empty a cesspit which causes disruption and horrible smells, with the mess left on the road and pavements where residents walk their children to school.
“We hope that Morris Homes work with the district council and Severn Trent [Water] to ensure that this is installed in a timely fashion to finally allow residents to get on with their lives.”
Morris Homes declined to comment on the case.
Yes, folks! This is sewage flowing into Cranleigh Waters, but with the prospect of a £1,000 fine why worry?