Eamont Bridge flood zone house plan “insane”

Date: Friday 21st December 2018

A PLAN to build a new house in Eamont Bridge’s flood zone was sunk by a single vote at a meeting of Eden Council’s planning committee — despite having the backing of the authority’s officers and the Environment Agency.

Ray King had applied for permission for a two-storey, four-bedroomed house for local occupancy in Skirsgill Lane. The proposal was criticised by Malcolm Temple (Con, Penrith South), who said he was “gobsmacked” it was being recommended for approval on a flood plain.

Located between the Grade II-listed Eamont Lodge to the east and Speedwell to the west, the site was said by a planning officer to be suitable for infill development. Although it was located within flood zone two (medium risk of flooding), the Environment Agency had stated that following the completion of further hydraulic modelling of the River Eamont the proposed site was “highly likely” to be reclassified as being in flood zone three (high risk of flooding).

However, the agency said it was “satisfied that the flood risk assessment demonstrates that the proposed development will not be at an unacceptable risk of flooding or exacerbate flood risk elsewhere”.

Objectors included Joe Dent, who has lived in Skirsgill Lane for 22 years and is part of the Eamont Bridge flood group, and Peter Baker, vice-chairman of Penrith Town Council. Mr Baker said the application would amount to “inappropriate development” in an area which flooded badly in January, 2005, November, 2009, and December, 2015.

He said: “In 2005 and 2009 the lane was under two to three feet of water and it was even deeper three years ago. I speak from experience as one of the volunteers who evacuated residents to the leisure centre.

“Indeed, Speedwell, a property on a site adjacent to the applicant’s site, and a few feet above road level, was inundated in 2015 and remains uninhabited to this day.”

Mr Baker said the town council was urging the committee to reject the application in the interests of the residents of Skirsgill Lane and Kemplay Foot, as well as those who put their lives at risk rescuing householders during floods.

Deb Holden (Lib Dem, Penrith) said building new houses in Eamont Bridge’s flood zone should be avoided “like the plague”, while Michael Eyles (Lib Dem, Penrith) said there was no way he would vote for approval as the plan was “totally insane”.

After a vote to approve the application was defeated by five votes to four, with one abstention, it was then refused by the same margin.