Dunston residents rally against housing development amid sewage system strain
Still recovering from October’s Storm Babet, which overwhelmed the system and flooded properties and gardens, locals in Dunston fear that adding more than 20 new houses on land north of Fen Lane will exacerbate the issue.
Construction of eight new homes has already begun, and an outline proposal for an additional 17 dwellings has been submitted to North Kesteven District Council by AG Property Associates of Lincoln.
Following community backlash, officials at Dunston Parish Council’s Monday meeting said that the application has been ‘drawn back’ for a more detailed review.
Andy Sampson, 48, on a trip to France during Storm Babet, returned to a devastating scene: his house in Dunston completely flooded.
“When Storm Babet happened, it flooded the beck, it flooded next door and it flooded our house. It completely destroyed everything, from front to back,” he recalled. Now, Andy and five neighbours are in temporary accommodation as their homes are being repaired.
As the community grapples with the aftermath of Storm Henk, Mr Sampson believes that the new housing development will further strain the already burdened sewage system, potentially worsening the situation.
Andy explained: “We do feel like we’re in the position where someone is looking over us, making vast amounts of money, and we’re going to suffer.
“We’re suffering now because of these storms and because the system can’t cope, what’s it going to be like when there’s 25 more houses? We’re not going to cope.
“There’s going to be more people, more water and more pressure on the sewage system. That is going to impact on what is happening at the minute and we are going to be in an even worse situation.”
Andy recalls that during Storm Babet, he and others dug channels in their back gardens to divert water to a nearby dyke and field. Yet, he notes, most water ended up in the construction sites of the ongoing development, creating swamp-like conditions.
With this in mind, Mr Sampson fears the new housing project could turn into a “disaster zone” under similar weather circumstances. While better prepared for Storm Henk, Andy confessed that the ongoing situation has left him “absolutely drained.”
He added: “I’ve personally gone through a lot in life and to get where I am has taken a lot of work.
“I lived on a very rough council estate near Nottingham, I moved to Lincoln in 2000 and started to educate myself to get a nice life and it’s being destroyed in front of my eyes. I feel completely powerless to stop it.
“We need help from somebody who has the power to stop making things worse. I think we will be completely overwhelmed with that estate and we won’t be able to cope.”
Dunston Parish Councillor Linda Phillipson, 73, was also forced to evacuate her home due to flooding from Storm Babet and has since been informed that she might not be able to return until around June or July. However, she remains sceptical about this timeline, especially if adverse weather conditions continue.
“If we get flooded again, [the water] is going to come back under the house and we’ll be back to square one,” she said.
She later recounted Monday’s parish council meeting, noting the strong turnout and the community’s anger towards the proposed development.
“There were a lot of people at the meeting and a lot of people were very angry at the thought that they could even consider adding to the problem we have with the sewers by adding more houses,” said Linda.
Her husband, Richard, 72, described the past few months as “demoralising.” He added “We’ve managed to stay fairly positive, as that’s all you can do.”
Another local, who wished to remain anonymous, underscored the dire conditions, noting that the floods and overburdened sewage system have left some without the ability to shower or flush toilets. She firmly stated that the housing development, being built in a “stupid place,” should not proceed.
She added: “We are trying to do everything we can to stop it.”
In their supporting documents, the applicants state that a Flood Risk Assessment prepared by their appointed consultant demonstrates that the site can be suitably drained.
They state: “It is proposed that the discharge of surface water will be to the watercourse along the site’s northern boundary. Discharge will be at a restricted rate with adequate storage provided within the proposed
attenuation basin located within the site which forms a multi-purpose area of green and blue infrastructure.
Their consultant added that the proposed development is not at significant flood risk, and will not increase flood risk to others, subject to the recommended flood mitigation strategies being implemented which also included floor levels raised 150mm above ground level.