Call for halt to new housing developments until Southern Water infrastructure is improved

Water supply

Thanet Green Party is calling for a halt to all housing developments across the isle until significant improvements have been made to Southern Water’s infrastructure.

The call follows a series of interruptions to water supply due to faults at the Rumfields water tower and sewer outfall incidents around the coast.

The number of water outages has increased over the last 12 months, with three already this year.

Thanet Green Party Chair Cllr Mike Garner, whose ward covers the water tower, said: “It is becoming abundantly clear that Southern Water’s current infrastructure is unable to supply a reliable service to the current population of Thanet, let alone the thousands of new homes which are planned between now and 2030. Without considerable improvements, the new homes being built are bound to make matters worse.

“We therefore believe that until Southern Water have completed the significant upgrades needed to make their infrastructure fit for purpose, no new housing developments should be approved.”

Planning rules

The move would possibly mean having to defer all decisions as refusal would have to be based on planning considerations, such as over development, and that would run the risk of costly planning appeals.

However, local planning authorities should usually make a decision on planning applications within eight weeks. If it takes longer, the applicant can appeal to the Secretary of State with responsibility for planning.

Housing development motion

Green Party Cllr Abi Smith proposed a motion at last October’s council meeting which would have routinely requested more detailed evidence from Southern Water that its systems could cope when applications for housing developments were being considered.

Senior officials from both Southern Water and the Environment Agency would have been invited to attend meetings to answer questions about plans to improve the infrastructure and ensure it was fit for purpose. A debate and vote on this motion was denied and the matter was referred to Cabinet.

Thanet Green Party Councillors will be attending this week’s Cabinet meeting to ask the administration to reconsider their rejection of the motion and to follow the example of other councils across the South which have implemented similar proposals.

Request for answers

Labour councillor Rob Yates has also requested answers from Southern Water about the continued water outages affecting residents.

He said he had received reports that the lack of supply had caused damage to combi-boilers installed on nearby houses, residents being left without heating  and local businesses such as Bannatynes and schools including  Upton Junior School having to close.

Southern Water has now agreed to attend a council overview and scrutiny meeting to let residents and councillors know what is happening with water outages and low water pressure around Westwood Cross and Broadstairs.

A date is yet to be agreed but it will need to be by March due to publicity restrictions that come into force when elections are due to take place.

Petition

Resident Liz Larvin has raised a petition asking Southern Water to attend a public meeting to explain the constant issues with water supply in Broadstairs.

She says on the petition page: “While some incidents may be weather related, Southern Water’s communication with impacted residents has been woeful. And those residents who are on the vulnerable list are left without water for several hours, despite having additional needs.

“We call on Southern Water to meet with the local community to explain why frequent interruptions to supply are recurring, what compensation is being offered to residents, and what remediation plans are in place to ensure we can drink, bathe and keep our houses clean.”

Find the petition here

22 Comments

  1. but the Tories have to be convinced – and how many of investments in Southern Water , as it has been suggested that our silent MP has? all power to the Green councillors on this!

  2. Are they going to pay all the tradesmen that will be put on hold whilst the works are done?

    Green Party = Zero sense.

    Like all the other parties!

    • Teresa Green.
      Yes, this is obvious sense!
      Not only water infrastructure but schools, doctors, social services including policing All extra services need to be in place before another new house is built on what is left of this Island. Don’t even get me started on the loss of valuable farmland, something I thought you Greens would object to, but no, you seem happy to let our food supplies be shipped in from other counties at huge environmental as well as fiscal cost.

    • And are Southern water going to reimburse all the customers ( private and business ) who have had no water, and, had to make their own arrangements to go to ‘pick up areas’ at their own expense. I havent read anything in the article to say they will, maybe you or the Green party have information on this, so people know if they are entitled to realistic compensation.

  3. This is obvious sense. At the Kent CPRE AGM in 2021 the Head of Water Resource Planning at SE Water (who heads up the regional H2O consortium) was asked about the prospects of desalination plants in e g Minnis & Pegwell Bays. Answer : ‘No way’ – energy costs are prohibitive and no one knows what to do with the toxic residue. Yet more recently SWater talks of desalination in Herne Bay. This seems like ‘chaff’ to confuse us and I am awaiting clarification just in case technology has suddenly broken through (unlikely or they’d all be at it ?) In the meantime we would be better addressing the enormous increase in long term empties (Thanet shows an 18% increase) and coming up with a balanced AirBnB policy (a la Cornwall ?) to early accommodate our own homeless (and provide work for local SME trades.) Someone has noticed that ‘brownfield’ opportunity is particularly available in the Metropolis – so is there any need for ‘social cleansing’ from where jobs actually are ? It will be interesting to read the local party manifestos and their environmental commitments for the forthcoming local elections.

  4. That’s the big opportunity – elections. There is so much dead wood at TDC where councillors are placed by their party into safe seats not because they are good for the community but good for the party.
    Let’s get some new blood at TDC!

  5. Unfortunately if TDC deliberately holds back planning decisions the government would step in and take over. It’s the government dictating numbers of houses here and TDC has to follow those guidelines.

    Applicants use the ‘no 5 year supply’ argument to justify their applications but a recent statement by Michael Gove gives a tiny bit of hope because he is giving in to his own backbenchers over the housing numbers. Let’s hope that is put in place because it would stop some speculative applications like the one on Convent Road being approved at appeal.

  6. The magic word here is ‘Amersham’ – there might be sufficient self-preservation instinct in the South East for ‘bottom up’ to previal over ‘top down’. It is unlikely that Thanet needs another 20,000 executive houses – yes, I know 30% are supposed to be ‘affordable’ but that gets whittled down to 10% if you are lucky (implying we need 60,000 houses to accommodate our ‘affordable’ requirement ?)
    I look forward to seeing the various party planning plans in the near future (before May elections ?) Especially attitudes to ‘food security’ and preservation of first class agricultural land in partnership with long term empties, AirBnB and brownfield opportunities.

  7. Southern Water should be taken back into public ownership. The Green Party are a joke they protest now hundreds upon hundreds of houses have already been built and thousands of acres of farmland have been destroyed.

  8. I fully agree Peter if 20% of residents do move out of Thanet because of the airport reopening good riddance to them they can take all their doom and glooms mentality with them. At least they will give the removal firms plenty of work.

  9. On the last water problem we had here in Broadstairs, I was told that it was because there was something at the water tower that had failed again.
    Wouldn’t it be sensible to replace the obviously defective part.
    All the properties in the damage area should be reimbursement, especially as people had to keep running the hot water until it turned hot, all that water running down the drain. Some times the people incharch don’t always know what they are doing,

  10. You would probably have to dig up every road to install a bigger pipe network. Otherwise if they increased the pressure you would probably have more burst pipes. Then you would complain about constant roadworks.

  11. Infrastructure first : refer to NODDY GOES TO TOYTOWN by E Blyton c1930 where N and Big Ears want to build a house and N suggests they put the roof up first whereas BE (being older & wiser) suggests putting the walls up should take preference in the strategic plan. For infrastructure include GPs also (there is a rather unhealthy GP/patient ratio for a not very healthy district generally.)

  12. The council cannot blame Southern Water this time as it is the Planning department passing every large housing development without due diligence. You cannot keep allowing new developments at this rate without allowing the infrastructure a chance to catch up. The issues we are seeing now is nothing in comparison with what is to come in Thanet if TDC keeps on the way they are with their rubber stamp. Who is in charge? Why are they so stupid ? The mentality of it !!!
    It’s bad enough already with the continued traffic jams everywhere, not enough doctors, hospitals, etc, etc. Just keep adding to it why not !

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