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MP George Freeman visits Watton as residents raise concerns about flooding and drainage

PUBLISHED: 17:30 24 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:41 24 March 2017

George Freeman MP visited residents of Jubilee Road in Watton, that were affected by flooding in June 2016. Picture: Ian Burt

George Freeman MP visited residents of Jubilee Road in Watton, that were affected by flooding in June 2016. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

A community concerned about drainage and flooding issues have raised their fears with Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman.

George Freeman MP visited residents of Jubilee Road in Watton, that were affected by flooding in June 2016. Picture: Ian BurtGeorge Freeman MP visited residents of Jubilee Road in Watton, that were affected by flooding in June 2016. Picture: Ian Burt

Mr Freeman visited Jubilee Road in Watton where he spoke to residents who were affected by flooding in June last year which saw water flow into people’s homes.

The MP said drainage infrastructure is a big issue in the town because of “insufficient rural drainage systems” and acknowledged that the flood threat in parts of the town is a “very real problem”.

Graham Brown, flooding and water manager at Norfolk County Council, was also present and said the authority is working on a report on the 2016 flooding which would help to look into ways to stop it happening again.

The report would also be used to advise on future planning decisions.

George Freeman MP visited residents of Jubilee Road in Watton, that were affected by flooding in June 2016. Picture: Ian BurtGeorge Freeman MP visited residents of Jubilee Road in Watton, that were affected by flooding in June 2016. Picture: Ian Burt

Mr Freeman said: “Drainage infrastructure is a major problem in parts of Watton and also Dereham and other parts of mid Norfolk.

“The turn out of residents here today shows what a serious problem it is. And I have demanded that the relevant agencies get together and take responsibility to solve the problem.

“Long-term, we need a proper plan for Watton and Dereham which is why I am convening the two summits for a long-term town plan to guide development in the future.”

Residents also spoke about their concerns about a proposed development of 177 houses on land off Mallard Road.

A stone-curlew on a typically fint-strewn crop on a farm in the Brecks Picture: RSPBA stone-curlew on a typically fint-strewn crop on a farm in the Brecks Picture: RSPB

They feel the infrastructure is not in place and more housing will put pressure on the drainage system.

The application was rejected by Breckland Council late last year - over drainage, layout and style and the fact a majority of the land lays in a stone-curlew buffer zone.

The stone-curlew

A very rare species, the bird is an iconic species of Breckland.

There are believed to be only 400 breeding pairs in the UK - 250 of which can be found in Breckland.

It is crow-sized with a large head, long yellow legs and relatively long wings and tail.

John Sharpe, conservation manager for the RSPB, said the rare birds are very sensitive to humans, roads and cars and that is why a buffer zone has been put in place.

The developer

Tesni Properties have lodged an appeal with the planning inspectorate which is due to be decided on June 13.

Mr Freeman said the councillors, residents and authorities needed “to work together” to gather evidence to send to the inspectorate to look at.

A spokesman for Tesni said: “The flood risk assessment submitted with the planning application, indicates that a sustainable surface water drainage strategy would be used to support the development’s drainage requirements.

“The assessment concluded that there would be no increase in flood risk in the local area.”

The flooding

Heavy rain on June 23 2016 saw streets around Watton - including Watton Green, Canon Close, Jubilee Road, Brandon Road and Saham Road -submerged and houses flooded.

Arthur Adams, who lives on Jubilee Road, was one of those affected when the water creaped into his bungalow.

He said: “It went right the way through my home. I had only been there for 10 months and we had everything new so we had to have everything replaced. “As soon as we got the storm people were at their windows and watching the road.”

The 76-year-old has said he and a few of his neighbours have invested in flooding defences including sandbags and a pump.

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