Talks held over Swaffham flooding concerns

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Council and water company officials are now better placed to address public concerns about flooding caused by inadequate surface water drainage in Swaffham, community leaders have claimed.

The comment follows a public meeting in the town on Thursday where officers set out who is now responsible for what after a change in the rules.

Officials also saw some of the hardest hit areas for themselves.

Last month, Anglian Water announced plans to spend £75,000 on upgrades to the town’s pipe network in a bid to reduce the problems caused by burst mains.

But, alongside that issue, public concern has also been growing about the impact of new developments, particularly in the Longfields and Norwich Road areas, on surface water drainage.

District and county council representatives, along with Anglian Water managers, visited the areas to see the problems for themselves.

And former MP Baroness Shephard, who chaired the meeting, said she was “somewhat puzzled” about why the issues in those areas had not been addressed before now.

But the meeting was told that Norfolk County Council has now been made a Lead Local Flood Authority, meaning that it is primarily responsible for managing flood risk across the county.

Officials say planning rules now require sustainable drainage systems to be in place before new housing developments get the go-ahead.

However, Graham Brown, the county council’s flood water manager, said it was Breckland Council, as the planning authority for the town, who would have the final say on whether the drainage schemes proposed as part of individual developments were adequate or not.

But, despite that, town clerk Richard Bishop said the meeting had helped to address issues that he admitted had “fallen between two stools for far too long.”

He added: “It was necessary to have all the agencies represented in order to get to the heart of the problems and find a way forward.

“I firmly believe that the practicalities of what can be done to improve matters will now be looked at in greater detail than ever before.”

A further meeting on the issue is planned for Thursday, September 17, also at the town hall, at 4pm.