ONE of the contentious issues about the proposed housing development in West Durrington is the flood risk to the 700 houses due to be built there.
The area is a clear flood plain fed from two sides – the South Downs on the north and Highdown Hill on the west. Every year, this area has pools of water on the surface in the winter, mostly in the south, and even this year when rainfall is a third less than normal, the pools of water and muddy ground are present. I know because I walk our dog there every day.
The Environment Agency and the planning department at Worthing Borough Council seem convinced that a system of ditches and balancing ponds will disperse the water and remove any flood risk, both in the immediate area and downstream to the Ferring Rife.
However, at least two households in Fulbeck Avenue have been denied household insurance for several years because of earlier flooding in this same area.
Recent articles in The Times in December and in the Mail on Sunday (1.1.12) have intimated that attitudes in the insurance industry are hardening and when the current agreement on flood insurance expires in June of this year it is likely that insurers will decline cover or impose terms so onerous that any homeowners at risk of flooding are unlikely to be able to afford cover.
It looks very probable that the houses in the southern part of the proposed development will be at a similar risk to the two householders in Fulbeck Avenue, which means that there is no room for smugness or complacency. It is to be hoped that Worthing Borough Council will take this possibility seriously!
Dr Arthur Thompson