THE controversial decision to build a housing estate on land hit by flooding was today described as “madness”.
Scores of neighbours on the Morris Homes’ development in Marton have been besieged by flood waters after days of heavy rain.
Blackpool Council rejected the 86-home scheme almost 10 years ago amid fears over flooding and poor drainage.
But it was overruled on appeal to the Government.
Downpours have, this week, left parts of the estate under water with emergency crews spending the last few days desperately trying to keep the flood waters at bay.
Although the flood waters did not enter the properties themselves, many residents are unhappy as they believe not enough has been done to protect them as roads and gardens were covered in water.
Morris Homes has defended its drainage system – instead blaming the floods on water levels at nearby Marton Mere – Coun Don Clapham, who was among those who rejected the original plans, told The Gazette: “To me it was madness for anyone wanting to build down there.”
Mr Clapham was among the original planning committee which turned down plans for homes in Marton – on the site of the old Pixie House Mushrooms factory – due to fears over flooding.
The rejection nine years ago was overturned by central government and 86 homes were built.
This week around 40 properties on Rosefinch Way and Lark Close in Marton – close to Marton Mere – have been hit by up to a metre of water after days of torrential rain.
Fire crews and staff from Blackpool Council have spent almost 48 hours at the scene trying to help residents keep the waters at bay.
Although Morris Homes today blamed water levels at nearby Marton Mere Coun Clapham said: “Our (planning) committee turned these plans down and it’s of no surprise if the properties have flooded because that’s the natural way the land’s laid.
“No doubt within the remit of the developer they would’ve stated they could drain the property, but unless you were putting in a massive pump nothing would cope with that.
“I wouldn’t have bought a property down there for anything.”
Many residents who The Gazette spoke to said they would never have moved to the estate if they had known plans for the homes had been rejected by Blackpool Council almost a decade ago.
Morris Homes appealed the planning rejection to the then Secretary of State, who, despite warnings of poor drainage, congested roads and site contamination, approved the scheme.
In a statement Morris Homes said: “There are two separate forms of drainage at Mere Farm.
“Surface water resulting from rainfall around Stanley Park and wider surrounding areas drains into the Mere.
“Rainfall from Mere Farm also runs into the Mere through drains that were installed by Morris Homes that will soon be adopted by United Utilities.
“The Mere’s water levels are managed by the local authority, which has full responsibility for pumps that regulate the levels.
“We understand from talking to the council that all three pumps have been working correctly this week.
“The extreme weather in the area has led to the Mere overflowing and parts of Mere Farm have flooded, despite the three pumps being in operation.
“The second unrelated system manages waste water from homes which involves a temporary pumping station maintained by Morris.
“This has been fully operational and checked during a maintenance visit this week.
“This system is not in any way related to the recent surface water flooding which has caused disruption for residents.
“Naturally, we understand that any flooding at Mere Farm can lead to questions about Morris Homes’ responsibilities.
“But for complete clarity, Morris is not responsible for the management of the Mere’s water levels.
“When planning approvals were granted for the development of Mere Farm, it was only after all of the necessary conditions were met in terms of drainage provision and upgrading the Mere’s pumps.”
FOR MORE ON THIS STORY SEE FRIDAY’S GAZETTE