It could be a lot better along here…

On Saturday 13.11, a couple of us took a walk around the back end of Stanford-le-Hope as part of our investigations into the various factors that are behind the flooding we’ve seen in the town this year. That walk took in the Stanford Brook and the Horndon Brook. This was our write up: Does anyone actually give a s**t? – November 13, 2021. For the record, these are two out of a number of pieces we’ve written about the flooding situation: Passing the buck:( – October 26, 2021 and: Not the holistic look at the January floods in Thurrock that we were hoping for – July 13, 2021.

On Saturday 20.11, a return visit was made with a couple of comrades from Basildon and Southend Housing Action (BASHA) to assess the feasibility of a clean up of the stretch of the Horndon Brook that runs alongside the Stanford Meadows housing development. Over the years, we’ve worked on a fair few community clean ups with BASHA and have amassed a lot of experience in the process. Basically, when we set about a task, we know what we’re doing.

We took a long hard look at what was in front of us and concluded that our crew alone wouldn’t be able to do the job that’s needed on this stretch of the brook. It would need a decent mobilisation from the community to provide the numbers needed to undertake the task. Then there are the logistical issues involved with moving, loading, transporting and safely disposing the debris that would be getting pulled from the brook. Lastly but by no means least, given the nature of the site, there are health and safety issues that have to be considered. An exercise like this couldn’t be undertaken without a thorough risk assessment. Should the community sufficiently want to do this, then of course we’d be more than happy to do what we can to facilitate it.

So, that leaves lobbying those responsible for both the Horndon Brook and the Stanford Brook. Responsibility for the actual watercourse lies with the Environment Agency. They discuss it, albeit a bit too briefly for our liking on pages 14-15 of this report – South Essex Catchment Flood Management Plan: Summary report – a PDF of which can be downloaded from this page. This report was produced in 2009. As far as we can make out, no actual work has been done on either of the brooks in the intervening period. It really is time they pulled their finger out, isn’t it?

To the west of the Horndon Brook, there’s the Stanford Meadows housing development being built by Persimmon Homes. To the west of the Stanford Brook, 153 homes are going to be built by ilke Homes. That’s two developments being built on a floodplain. As we’ve mentioned previously, the attenuation pond on the Stanford Meadows development failed back in January when there was serious flooding in the town – now it’s choked by reeds. It’s not fit for purpose. There needs to be a coordinated plan covering both sites to landscape and clean up the brooks and build in flood resilience that works.

As well building in flood resilience, landscaping would make the brooks a welcome natural asset alongside the developments. At the moment, they’re neglected and not pleasant places to be. It will cost money. Both developers should be dipping their hands in their pockets to pay for the flood resilience and the landscaping. They have a responsibility to the residents moving into these developments to create a decent, attractive environment for them. Failure to do this will only reinforce the impression that many people have of housing developers is that they’re only interested in making as much money as possible and have little interest in creating communities with a decent, sustainable environment around them. Now is the golden opportunity for them to prove us wrong!

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