Highway Safety & Flooding Updates

Flooding in 2000

There have been a number of developments relating to the Bellis Planning Consent. The RFG are now in a position to release updates on Highway Safety relating to Holt Road (see previous article), also on National Resources Wales (NRW) responses to our flooding queries and concerns (see previous articles Flood Risks and Banner Protests).

Defective Footway on Holt Road (B5102)

Detailed representations were made to the Equalities Commission regarding the inadequate footway proposals recommended by the Planning Inspectorate and the Welsh Minister. The Equalities Commission have agreed with RFG that the footway scheme approved for Holt Road did not provide the necessary protection required under the Equalities Act 2010 and responded as follows: 

“Given your request includes complaints of possible non-compliance with equality law, our Legal Principal has followed the Commission’s Litigation and Enforcement policy, which is available on our website, in deciding how the Commission should respond. Our Legal Principal also has to consider whether the issues you have raised fit within the Commission’s strategic priorities, how to best fulfil our duties and effect change.  In light of this, the Commission has decided to write to Wrexham Council about potential non-compliance with Public Sector Equality Duty.”

Photos of the dangerous section of the road
Holt Road (B5102)

It has now been established that the Equality Commission wrote to the Chief Executive of Wrexham Council on the 8th September 2020 regarding potential non-compliance with Public Sector Equality Duty and the Council response is yet to be seen on this issue. Failure of a local authority to comply with Public Sector Equality Duty will put a Local Authority on a collision course with the Equality Commission and can result in legal action against the council for failing to protect persons with protected characteristics.

Flooding and NRW Evidence

Over the last 5 months protracted correspondence has taken place with NRW and the Flood Records that guide their advice to Planning Authorities especially in Rossett. In July RFG made a formal complaint to the NRW Chief Executive centring on the NRW advice and information being provided in connection with Flood Guidance in Planning matters, especially on a site here in Rossett Wrexham. The vagueness of the response resulted in RFG placing a formal Freedom of Information (FOI) request on NRW seeking the answers to detailed questions.

Alyn Drive – Mid afternoon, before peak flood level in Nov 2000

Summary

To summarise all of the correspondence below which has now concluded, it has been shown that NRW have no detailed evidence to support the claims that the Rossett Site in question (Bellis Fields) will not flood, they have no evidence of the 1964, 1976 flood incidents, they have only a Police Helicopter Flyby to inform them of the 2000 flooding event. In addition, NRW have confirmed that the predicted flood level in Harwoods Lane area is 13.60m AOD which indicates that the risk is greater than that of Nov 2000 as the flood lines measured by RFG were 13.37m AOD on Harwoods Lane. The predicted flood height of 13.6m is above the levels of the surrounding fields and a large part of Harwoods Lane thus placing the proposed housing development in the area at risk of flooding.

The latest reference to Flood Mapping (see correspondence below) relates to the Consultation on the Latest Welsh Government Document on Flood Prevention TAN15 which has just published its new draft maps for the whole of Wales. In this latest map the site we have been discussing is now illustrated as substantially a Flood Zone 2 undefended map location.

RFG are again responding to the TAN 15 Consultation which ends in January 2021. The latest mapping largely mirrors the Topography of north & south Fields already displayed on this web site under Section 10 of Flooding & Insurance Risk.

Further Developments

During recent weeks RFG has been contacted by BBC Panorama who are producing a documentary on Flooding in Wales. The BBC have identified Rossett as a location where recently 132 houses were approved on appeal by the Welsh Minister in a flood prone area. We have provided details of our concerns to the producers and we understand that the Panorama Programme may be transmitted in December 2020.

Correspondence

The response to our complaint was received at the end of July 2020. This response from NRW was both helpful in part and vague on many other points in relation to the formal complaint. As a result of the vagueness of the response RFG placed a formal Freedom of Information (FOI) request on NRW seeking the answers to detailed questions on their evidence base for the Flood Events in 1964, 1976 and 2000. The information disclosed indicated that NRW had no evidence to support their assertions that sites in Rossett would not flood and that the 2000 Flood Outline Record was based on a Police Helicopter Flyby in 2000 which was digitised in 2014. The disclosed response is shown at the end of this article. RFG regarded the FOI response as somewhat inadequate and in August 2020 raised further queries and NRW responded to this second request as follows:

RFG – “I have now taken the opportunity to fully examine NRW response and find that the detailed 2000 Flood Map information is somewhat inadequate and fails to accord with photographic records of the time in the Rossett locality. As a result I have attached a letter on behalf of Rossett Focus Group (RFG), including photographic evidence pointing out the deficiencies in the record and seeking clarification on the overlap between answers to Q4 and Q5. I shall therefore be pleased if you will let me have your valued response from NRW to totally close the FOI request.”

“NRW produce the Development Advice Map (DAM) based on our 0.1% Annual Flood Probability map (Flood Zone 2, undefended map). This is a modelled outline supplemented in some areas by historic flood outlines where they extend beyond the boundary of the modelled outline. 

The information you have provided does not show the development site off Harwoods Lane flooded and the additional flood photos you provided in your recent response only confirm areas already identified at risk in our Flood Zone 2 outline, and also documented in our DAM. These are the maps used by NRW as part of the planning advice service. 

With regards flood levels at the edge of the flood outline the Broadscale modelling does not produce peak water levels, only outlines, so I cannot provide a level for these. The more detailed modelling produces a water level within the channel which would not be relevant. However, for your information we are in the process of completing a more detailed modelling study for Rossett which will be used for a new all Wales Flood Risk Map (Flood Risk Assessment Wales). This is due to be published later this year, replacing the current information. It will replace both the broadscale and detailed modelling information for this reach of the River Alyn. For reference I have indicated peak flood levels for this study on the attached map. Whilst I cannot yet share these outlines I can confirm they produce a similar outline to the current maps. Outlines for this work will be available in the new maps once published”.

Further correspondence continued with NRW in October and the Final November 2020 response is shown below:-

RFG – “Can NRW confirm that the broad  hydraulic modelling location shown on the Flood Outline Map at 13.60m AOD can be interpreted as the peak level that will be included in the revised Development Advice Mapping to be released later this year and that the height of 13.60m AOD will now be used to indicate a peak level on Harwoods Lane on your 0.1% Annual Flood Probability map (Flood Zone 2, undefended map)”

“The 13.6mAOD water surface level provided is taken from the hydraulic model at that specific location. This level cannot be used to project upstream or downstream as these levels will vary significantly based on the topography and predicted water surface profile. We are unable to provide any further information in relation to this request other than what has already been provided”.

Inaccurate flood outlines provided by NRW

Flooding and Other Issues in Rossett

Rossett doesn't need and doesn't want this development protest banner

Rossett Doesn’t Need and Doesn’t Want This Development

Welcome – You have arrived on this web page because you have probably seen one of our protest banners or notices that have started appearing around the village. Flooding is not the only issue in Rossett as we will discuss later, however it should be a major concern to anyone considering property purchases in certain Rossett postcodes.

Rossett protest banner

Summary

To summarise – if this development goes ahead we can only warn about the situations that will exist in choosing to purchase a property on the development North & South of Rossett Road.

    • Class action will be taken for the damage caused if any existing local property is flooded due to run-off from the development (see sect.1 and specifically para. 1.10)
    • Access to school places (primary and secondary) cannot be guaranteed (see sect. 3)
    • Access to primary health care services (GP Surgeries) cannot be guaranteed (see sect. 2).
    • Road safety for school children, disabled persons, cyclists and children in push-chairs is clearly being ignored (see sect. 4).

The following details expand on the issues raised above.

Flooding History

The Village of Rossett has been subject to a number of planning applications over the years and these have always been opposed by Members of the Wrexham Council. The New Development North & South of Rossett Road was refused by Councillors but it was appealed and granted by the Welsh Minster on the advice of a Planning Inspector. The site was only approved because Wrexham needed houses somewhere in the Borough. The Planning Inspector actually endorsed the grounds the Council refused the application but the appeal was granted ignoring the following facts: –

1. Flooding and Insurance Risk

Map showing boundary of flood plain between Harwoods Lane and the south Bellis field
  1. The site abuts the River Alyn flood plain and the River has burst its banks many times in the last 50 years with drastic flooding to the village in 1976 and 2000.

  2. Residents living near this site have been refused flood insurance and mortgages for a number of years as the development site boundary along Harwoods Lane has been adjudged only recently by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) as level with the River Alyn flood plain.

    1. The photographs that you see displayed on Banners around the Village are records of the surface water flooding that occurred in June 2019 and February 2020.  The River Alyn did burst its banks but did not reach the development site on that occasion.

    2. NRW categorically state that the sites are not at high risk of flooding but do not factor into their advice climate change which is a very real risk on land level with a flood plain, especially as both parcels of land are inherently waterlogged most winter months from October to March.
OS Map showing aquifer and stream in North field
  1. The northern parcel of land was included for development in the 1950s and was abandoned by the Council in 1958 when the houses facing the site in Trevalyn Hall View were evacuated due to the spring and aquifer under the land lifting the floor slabs warranting massive repairs before they could be re-occupied.

    Old OS map Pre 1950s development showing aquifer and stream in North field.  The large Alder tree growing in the field is at the point where the aquifer rises.


    In 2003 a Planning Inspector refused planning consent on the Northern Field due to historic flooding and advised a precautionary approach due to the flood risk.

    1. In 2000 the November Flooding incident was so intense that the houses and bungalows in Trevalyn Way were sandbagged by the Council to overcome the massive run-off from the Southern Field into Trevalyn Way.

    2. In September 1976 the flooding in the Village was even greater than 2000 and the high-water marks in Harwoods Lane and Gun Street were recorded by the Residents. Harwoods Lane in those days was just a country lane and the flood line was bounded by the large tree on the corner of Trevalyn Way and Harwoods Lane. Harwoods Lane was closed for a week cutting off the road to Trevalyn. The River Alyn reached a height of 2.89m above normal.

    3. In 2000 the flood lines were almost as high, 2.79m above normal and the Wrexham Council Duty Flood Officer confirms the flooding extent to the village and that Harwoods Lane was breached by flood water almost to Trevalyn Hamlet which required sandbagging to prevent damage to the cottages on Harwoods Lane. We have in addition to that testimony of the Duty Flood Officer, statements from local residents confirming the height of flood waters on that occasion.

    4. The speculators Flood Consequences Assessment (FCA) Report has plans for the gardens of the new properties to be flooded in the event of the drainage capacity (SUDs) being exceeded. This policy of garden flooding is deprecated by the latest draft TAN 15 that gives guidance to flooding matters in Wales. No apparent consideration has been given in the FCA to flood water run on or run off from the site.

    5. For information, the Records held by NRW on flood levels in Rossett only commenced in 2010 when the defences along Station Road were strengthened and these indicate only a maximum River Alyn height of 2.19m above normal in June 2019.

      NRW have never attended a flood incident in Rossett, they always relied upon WCBC to respond and they have no record of the 1976 event and their records for 2000 are derived from a Police Helicopter Flyby. Unless the Flyby took place, in full darkness at midnight on the 6th November 2000, then the height of flood lines established by local residents and the Council Duty Flood Officer cannot be disputed.
Topographical map of the North and South Bellis fields

Topograpy of North & South Fields

The 2000 flooding is known to have peaked at a height of 15.79m Above Ordnance Datum (AOD) at 11:45pm on 6th Nov 2000.

Note that the maximum elevation of these 2 fields is 13.82m. Also that no flood defences exist in this area of the River Alyn. (The only flood defence in Rossett is in Station Road)

Flooding run-off is illustrated by the topographical map derived from the speculators data. The South field was subjected to River Alyn flood water with knock on flooding into Trevalyn Way and Moss Green with water subsequently crossing Rossett Road into the North Field and Trevalyn Hall View.

2. Primary Health Care

    1. We would draw attention to the parlous state of primary health in this and the surrounding area covered by Alyn Family Doctors (AFD).

    2. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic the local doctor’s practice was unable to cope with the high numbers of patients coming on to its register.

    3. The AFD practice already covers Gresford, Llay, Marford, Rossett and some extra 1000 patients over the border in Cheshire.

    4. With nearly 500 properties already under construction in the area, all of which are hoping to register with the practice for their health care, it is uncertain whether any of those or any new patients in Rossett can/will be added to the patient register.
Alyn Family Doctors Surgery in Rossett
  1. In 2018 AFD announced that they were consulting on moving their Gresford Surgery/Health Centre services to Llay and Rossett due to safety concerns.  If this transpires then it will place further pressure on the Rossett Surgery which is based in a small terraced house.

Alyn Family Doctors Surgery
Station Road, Rossett

3. Education

    1. The 70-year old local primary school is judged to be at capacity and that new residents’ children will probably be sent to the Rofft School at the top of Marford Hill.

    2. Regarding secondary education Darland High School is almost at capacity and will be under pressure to take further admissions when the 500 houses mentioned above are finished and occupied, let alone the 132 houses in prospect in Rossett.

4. Highway Safety

    1. The new development will not be served by roadways with adequate footways. The Rossett Road improvements suggested by the speculator do not meet the safety standards required by the Manual for Streets, Welsh Government TAN18 or WCBC Local Planning Policy.

    2. Chapel Lane has in large part no footways, but the Welsh Minister finds that these inadequacies of the development site do not impair the grant of Planning Consent.

Holt Road, the only access leading from the village centre to the proposed development site.

All the routes from the other direction have load restrictions. Note that the left has no pathway between the houses and road.

The pedestrian access here would be shared by construction traffic, school children, push-chairs, cyclists and agricultural traffic.

5. Links to More Detail

Flooding on 6th November 2000 -The flooding is known to have peaked at a height of 15.79m Above Ordnance Datum (AOD) at 11:45pm on 6th Nov 2000.

A 19 Minute Video of the above flood.

History of Previous Flooding – 1950 to 2020 – Rossett is a village with a recent history of flooding.  A number of planning applications by housing developers have been rejected over the years, some were appealed but still not granted.

Gallery of Flooding Photographs – Images of the floods from 1976 to the current day.

Flood Risk and Household Insurance – Five insurers on the Flood Re list have already declined insurance cover locally on houses built before 2009. If you are not insured with them already they are not obliged to quote.