Village housing scheme rejected amid fears of sewage in streets
Aug 2, 2023
Site layout for the Bishop Monkton scheme.
Site layout for the Bishop Monkton scheme.

North Yorkshire Council has refused plans for 23 homes in Bishop Monkton amid concerns it would increase the amount of raw sewage released on streets.

The Kebbell Homes development was considered yesterday afternoon at the Skipton and Ripon planning committee at Ripon Town Hall.

About 25 villagers, who appeared to be firmly on the side of refusal, also attended,

A council officer recommended councillors approve the scheme but the committee decided otherwise.

One councillor said having more properties in the village could exacerbate the “abomination” of raw sewage being released into the streets during heavy rainfall.

A decision on the application was deferred at the previous planning committee in June when councillors requested further details from Yorkshire Water on how the scheme would impact on foul water drainage in the village.

Yorkshire Water told the council that “most, if not all” of the “sewage escapes” in the village were caused by residents putting excessive toilet paper, fat, oil and grease down toilets and sinks which caused pipes to block.

However, the water company acknowledged that the sewage system in Bishop Monkton, which is between Boroughbridge and Ripon, was close to capacity.

Nick Brown, the Conservative councillor for Wathvale and Bishop Monkton, who was on the committee as a substitute, said the village had been blighted by sewage discharges in recent years with its Victorian sewage system unable to cope with more rain brought on by climate change. 

He called on Yorkshire Water to improve its infrastructure before any new homes are built.

Cllr Brown said:

“There’s no question that Bishop Monkton has had sewage on the streets and that’s totally abhorrent.

“I really think this is something that should not be happening in 2023. There are proper grounds for refusal in villages where sewage systems are at capacity.”

Yorkshire Water accused of ‘arrogance’

Yorkshire Water did not send a representative to attend the meeting, which angered Conservative and Independent Group councillor for Skipton East and South, Robert Heseltine. 

He said:

“I am exceptionally disappointed with the response from Yorkshire Water. They are a massive company and it’s not acceptable to democracy. It demonstrates a disturbing amount of arrogance on their part.”

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The two-storey homes would have had either 2,3,4 or 5-bedrooms. Planning documents attached to the application said the developer hoped the scheme would “integrate with the locality and positively contribute to the community”.

Steve Longstaff, a planning agent on behalf of the developer, said the application met all of the requirements set out in Harrogate Borough Council’s Local Plan, which is still being used to guide planning applications on the new unitary authority.

He said:

“There are no objections from Yorkshire Water or the lead flood authority. The scheme is designed with current best practice and as such any reasons for refusal on drainage are unsubstantiated and unreasonable.”

Hedgerow retained

Nathan Hull, the Conservative councillor for Washburn and Birstwith and chair of the committee, praised the scheme for including 40% affordable homes which he said could help keep the village alive.

However, he said he would abstain from voting due to the conflicting views and opinions on what the impact the homes might have.

Councillors also objected to the removal of a hedgerow, which some villagers claim dates back to 1816.

After a long discussion with officers over how to word the refusal in the event of the developer appealing, councillors voted to refuse the application by four votes to one with one abstention.

They cited policies in the Local Plan relating to developments not having an adverse impact on the sewage capacity and the removal of the hedge harming the Bishop Monkton Conservation Area.

Kebbell Homes can appeal and the Local Democracy Reporting Service has asked the company for a response to the decision.