Councillors call for building moratorium in Bishop Monkton over flood fears
Last updated Jun 7, 2023
Site layout for the Bishop Monkton scheme.
Site layout for the 23 homes in Bishop Monkton scheme.

Councillors have called for a moratorium on building houses in Bishop Monkton until Yorkshire Water reveals if and when it intends to modernise its waste water system.

North Yorkshire councillors expressed disbelief that as a statutory consultee to a proposed housing estate in the village, near Ripon, the water firm had given the green light, despite its engineers having condemned the village’s sewage system as inadequate for current needs.

Members of the Skipon and Ripon planning committee heard even when rain was “moderate” human waste could be seen on the village’s streets due to a lack of sewage capacity and the water firm had given an undertaking to state when, in its forthcoming 25-year plan for the area, the issue would be rectified.

Cllr Nick Brown, a Conservative who represents Wathvale and Bishop Monkton, told the meeting how he and six of his parishes, including Bishop Monkton, had pressed Yorkshire Water over when it would act to end floods of sewage on the streets.

Cllr Nick Brown

He said during moderate rainfall Bishop Monkton’s combined sewer became overwhelmed and was discharged into the beck at the bottom of the village.

The meeting heard councillors question when Yorkshire Water last objected to a development and that it had a commercial interest in seeing its customer base increase, while having no duty to make corresponding improvements in sewage systems.

Officers warned councillors if they refused the proposal to build up to 23 homes off Knaresborough Road due to the village’s ongoing sewage issues it would be harder to defend an appeal against the decision because Yorkshire Water had not objected to it.

Skipton councillor Robert Heseltine said: 

“Until they put their house in order there shouldn’t be any more building.”

Ripon councillor Andrew Williams added: 

“Which business is voluntarily going to turn down 23 extra customers, knowing there is no regulatory control on Yorkshire Water? There is no obligation on Yorkshire Water to improve what is already a profoundly dissatisfactory situation.”

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The meeting also heard there were concerns raised over the removal of a hedge, which some villagers claim dates back to 1816, the impact of the development on a grade II listed church and conservation area and in particular about road safety.

Councillors unanimously voted to defer a decision over the development to get details from Yorkshire Water over when it planned to upgrade the village’s sewage system, as well as to talk with highways officers and the developer over safety and environmental concerns.

After the meeting, North Yorkshire Council leader, Cllr Carl Les, said he hoped Yorkshire Water would answer councillors’ questions over its plans, adding: 

“Clearly there are concerns about capacity in the system as well as over discharges into rivers.”

In response to the concerns, a Yorkshire Water spokesperson said the application was on land allocated by the council for development, and it was “not a statutory consultee on applications of this nature and unable to refuse connection to our network”.

The statement added:

 “Under the application, the developer will be separating surface water and foul waste, limiting the amount of additional wastewater entering the network.

“We are aware of some issues with the network in the area, but many of these are linked to blockages and infiltration of surface water into the network during heavy rainfall. We have investigated the sewers in the area and are looking at options to add increased storage to alleviate issues during heavy rainfall.”