FURIOUS Richmond Road residents have appealed to Abergavenny Town Council after a developer has revealed plans to create a temporary sewage treatment plant on land at Grosvenor Road so that it can sell the properties before Welsh Water upgrades the local network.
Monmouthshire planners approved Pricewise Homes' scheme for eight dwellings at the site in March, but now with the start of building, a notice from the Environment Agency has been distributed in respect of an application for a permit to operate a private sewage treatment plant on the site, which is effectively in the middle of a heavily built up conservation area.
Abergavenny Town Council heard from Peter Woodley, a local resident and a chartered surveyor who was speaking on behalf of a number of people directly affected by the scheme.
He said that the notification was contrary to all national and Welsh Government guidelines and even Monmouthshire County Council's own planning policy and added: "The government brought in legislation for the adoption of private drainage systems into the main sewerage network to improve accountability.
"However the policy is specific about private sewage systems, as they are deemed highly suitable for rural locations, but not in the middle of a new housing development.
"The history of this site has always been that it can't be developed until it has proper sewerage provision. This is not due to be completed until April 2014 at the earliest. I don't want children playing in or near to a sewage plant, temporary or otherwise. It seems to me this is a backdoor application to avoid planning policy guidelines. "
The original proposal for the scheme suggested that it would dispose foul sewage via the mains sewer, but Welsh Water has since advised that the development would overload the existing waste water treatment works where improvement works are not due to be completed until April 2014.
It further suggested that a special condition could be imposed to prevent occupation of the dwellings before April 2014, but this was never adopted as part of the planning approval.
Mr Woodley said that the developer was now installing a sewage treatment plant on the site and said, "The wording of the conditions has changed from what residents had been satisfied with - that no occupancy would take place on the site until 2014.
Councillor John Prosser said,"I've great sympathy for these residents as it appears that regulations are being overridden.
"However building control should now have an in-depth investigation into the situation and I feel the sewage plant permit application is so significant that it should have its own planning application in its own right."
Mr Woodley reminded members that the current sewer network is at capacity and has been at this stage for some time and as such is due to be upgraded in 2014.
He added that the developer was jumping the gun in proposing to build on the site before 2014 and added, "While I think most people would like to see the site put to good use and for it to become a secure area, there seems to be a level of pre-determination in wanting to build the site before it can realistically be occupied."
Councillor Prosser said that the town council needed assurances that the planning committee ought to be discussing the issue and added, "I personally feel that this scheme should be stopped in its tracks until the developer has submitted its own planning application for the temporary private sewage treatment plant."
Mr Woodley concluded that residents were not NIMBYs and were in the main supportive of the development, but they had concerns over the use of soakaways to drain treated sewage into land adjoining local residents' gardens and the reliability of these systems, especially when they could be subject to misuse by the disposal of nappies and sanitary towels which are known to cause blockages and breakdowns in these systems.
"These plants are notoriously unreliable and definitely not suitable for use in urban locations for both residential amenity and public health and safety reasons."