Taylor Wimpey Submits New Drainage Strategy Planning Application for Thames Farm

Taylor Wimpey have finally submitted the new drainage strategy planning application for the Thames Farm housing development, Regency Place, to South Oxfordshire District Council.  The application shows the proposed new route for the surface water from the site will be pumped along a piped system underneath the Reading Road towards Henley, then it will turn off down land adjacent to Sheephouse Farm (near the new Bremont HQ) and out onto a watercourse next to the sports pitches at Jubilee Park next to Tesco.

The new strategy was created from a Flood Risk Appraisal and Drainage Study that Enzygo Environmental Consultants completed on behalf of Taylor Wimpey in March 2021 which was shown to Thames Farm Action Group in a meeting with Taylor Wimpey. In the study, it states “a new outfall to the Northern Watercourse would have a negligible risk of flooding to sports pitches and grass land, and remove uncontrolled surface water runoff from the site which otherwise could impact nearby properties and the capacity of the foul/highway drainage networks.”

All the local Councils (Henley, Harpsden & Shiplake) and Thames Farm Action Group have this week commissioned reviews of the application by professional drainage consultants and solicitors and have asked for the deadline of 13 July to be extended as there are hundreds of pages of data, information and plans to go through.

Peter Boros, Chair of Thames Farm Action Group said, “We are still struggling to understand how SODC and the statutory consultees can decide upon such a proposal without also having full details of the proposed ground works i.e. the grouting and vibro-compaction work which we suspect will be across the vast majority of the site because of the voids discovered in the ground.”

“The grouting works will be a huge nuisance with dozens of lorries going in and out, the noise, the ground vibrations and the dust and dirt as well as the  traffic hazards. That operation will potentially involve pumping cement into the ground possibly to a depth of 16m, and then vibrating the slurry below ground for it to spread, compact and fill the voids! The site is the equivalent of about 7 football pitches and the voids 16m deep and will take many months or perhaps a year to do. However none of this has been put forward at this stage, and we are concerned that it may never be properly presented or scrutinised.  We believe that that is wrong and that Taylor Wimpey should be asked for a comprehensive package so everyone can review the whole position/picture. We have repeatedly asked SODC to require a comprehensive submission of these very complex and interrelated issues, and to reject the current piecemeal approach, as no one has adequate information to properly review the whole position/proposal.

“The land will be made impermeable to water once it is grouted and of course surface water will come from a much larger catchment area than just Thames Farm and will need to be captured, stored and then pumped away. Earlier plans showed a massive concrete storage structure on site which if still proposed could have numerous issues and problems.”

“We want assurances that the Environmental Agency and Thames Water are happy to see this grouting operation go ahead and their confirmation that it WILL NOT take place anywhere close to or at the same level as the water table since the Aquifers beneath the ground will be at risk of contamination and also poorer refresh rates than at present. This is Henley’s drinking water that is at risk and it is almost unique in the UK and has no alternative at present. That is why the site is within a Source Protection Zone and normally the authorities would get very agitated about drilling into the ground here as they don’t like the source placed at risk. The problem here of course is that the site was granted outline planning before the voids beneath the site were known about.”

Henley Town Council’s Town Clerk, Sheridan Jacklin Edward said, “The Town Council is concerned about the implications of these proposals. We have commissioned work to assess the scheme and are consulting with local residents and other stakeholders. We hope to make a formal response shortly.”

A Taylor Wimpey spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have now submitted our revised drainage strategy for our development on Reading Road in Shiplake to South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC).”

“We are confident that we have found a viable solution which will have minimal impact on the surrounding areas.”

Details of the application can be viewed here