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The Saga of flooding on Green Street continues

posted 10 Feb 2014, 13:42 by Tomo   [ updated 16 Feb 2014, 02:40 ]
The Saga of flooding on Green Street in Chorleywood shows no sign of improving any time soon. 

It's almost a year to the day since we wrote a very similar article on the same subject.


We've lost count of the number of vehicles that have been written off by being driven into the flood, despite the road being signposted as being closed by Herts Highways. If the road is signposted as closed it's highly unlikely an insurer will pay out for damage to a vehicle.

THE PROBLEM

The dip on Green Street closest to the junction of Orchard Drive is flooding so badly now that the road (the widest access to Chorleywood village centre) is impassable to both vehicles and pedestrians on a regular basis and the 336 bus from High Wycombe to Watford is frequently re-routed. The flooding is not only inconvenient but is also a potential safety hazard.


For more detail and background on this issue please read on below.


Call for Action:


We would like to help those of you who wish to raise the profile of this issue in an attempt to get a permanent resolution for the community. 

Chorleywood Residents’ Association along with Chorleywood Magazine and Chorleywood Mums would like to encourage as many residents as possible to take one (or more) of the following actions:


  1. Register a complaint with Herts County Council about the lack of action by Herts Highways to restore access and clear the highway Click here for details of how best to complain. Estimated time - 5 to 10 mins.
  2. Request that the Hertfordshire Flood Water Management team urgently review the drainage issues occurring on Green Street in Chorleywood Click here for details on how to contact Hertfordshire Flood Water Management Team. Estimated time - 10 to 15 mins.
  3. Continue to register all highway faults with Herts Highways as promptly as you can Online at http://hertsdirect.org/faultreporting or call 0300 123 4047.

As a community we're working together to tackle this issue:



Keep us informed:

  1. Use the comments section on the Chorleywood Magazine website to voice your opinion on this issue and the work we are doing to try to tackle this issue
  2. Can you help with any of the history of what has been happening on Green Street and the adjacent land? HCC seem to think that “There is understood to be a long history of flooding at the [Green Street] site although only relatively recent events have been recorded.” - can you help clarify on this point? Can you help with this? Let us know!
  3. The County Councillor for most of us in Chorleywood in Christopher Hayward, and he has been in receipt of quite a lot of correspondence about this issue. However he would encourage further correspondence, especially direct with County Hall, as it will improve the profile of the issue at County Hall. Include your County Councillor in correspondence Chris.Hayward@hertfordshire.gov.uk where you can
  4. Include the CRA email address in correspondence greenstreet@chorleywoodresidents.co.uk and use this email address to share with us any acknowledgement or responses you get from logging complaints, etc.


Background information:


Green Street is managed by Herts Highways, part of Hertfordshire County Council (HCC).


As a Highway authority, Hertfordshire has a responsibility to reasonably maintain the highway free from flooding. 


Extract from the Hertfordshire website:

HCC, as the Highways Authority for Hertfordshire, has a common law duty to maintain the highway and “put the highway in such good repair as renders it reasonably passable for the ordinary traffic of the neighbourhood at all seasons of the year without danger caused by physical condition.”  The duty to maintain includes a duty to keep the highway free from flooding and provide adequate drainage.


The issue on Green Street is slightly complicated:


  • The public highway is firmly on Hertfordshire land:

    • Although it used to be Bucks before the boundary change in 1991

  • The County boundary runs along the western boundary of the road

  • It is suspected that the surface water is accumulating on land to the western side of the road (i.e. Bucks) and is draining to the east

  • The earthworks which have been permitted for the Golf Course which may be implicated in this issue lies on Bucks land were given planning permission by Chiltern District Council (the District Council on the Bucks side)

  • And the 336 bus which runs from High Wycombe to Watford is a service that is contracted to Transport for Bucks. Hertfordshire Intalink (the part of HCC that looks after buses) appears to be largely ignorant about this issue.


Road Closure History


As far as we are aware, the number of days that Green Street has been impassable due to flooding over the past three years is as follows:

(as of 16th February 2014)


2014 - 30 days (so far)

2013 - 15 days

2012 - 26 days

03 Jan to 11 Jan (9 days)

27 Jan to 04 Feb (9 days)

12 Jun to 14 Jun (3 days)

26 Jan to 16 Feb (21 days)

14 Feb to 18 Feb (4 days)

23 Nov to 30 Nov (8 days)



20 Dec to 03 Jan (14 days)


Flood Water report


Cllr Chris Hayward has shared with us an Outline of Investigation (PDF) into the flooding on Green Street where as Lead Local Flood Authority, another section of Hertfordshire County Council has to conduct an investigation into the issue on Green Street under Section 19 of the Flood Water Management Act 2010.


The disappointing news is that it is projected that it will take between 14 and 16 weeks for this report to be produced. During which time Chorleywood will continue to suffer if there is sustained rainfall and Green Street continues to be closed. And the only timescales that are mentioned are for the production of the report, with no mention on remedial actions to be taken.


No action taken to drain the Highway


During the recent bad weather in January and February 2014 we have seen other areas where flooding has occurred in the locality. Whilst we are fortunate in Chorleywood to not have been badly affected by flooding on this occasion, there seems to have been differing response levels to similar issues elsewhere in the County.


Where life and limb are at risk the emergency services, and primarily the Fire and Rescue service have responsibilities to protect life, and will assist from time to time with pumping out of areas where the flooding risks life or property.


However the Fire and Rescue service have no responsibility to remove water from the highway where there is no additional risk to life or occasionally property, this is solely the responsibility of Herts Highways and their drainage provision.


Green Street has been flooded and impassable to vehicular and pedestrian traffic for 9 weeks out of the last 26 months, and the excessive time the road has been closed is in part because Hertfordshire Highways have taken no proactive action to pump or drain away the excess water from the Highway. They could have deployed pumps to try to remove the water more quickly, but why have they not done so? Are they failing in their duty to maintain reasonable free passage along highway by not doing so?


Update: On Friday 14th February contractors from Ringway were spotted creating new trench gullies (natural drainage) to the north west side of the flooding site. Although this might improve drainage, we are in no doubt that whislt this might alleviate the issue, it is not addressing the root cause of the issue of where the water is coming from. Our County Councillor Chris Hayward is in agreement on this point, and will continue to press for action even when the water subsides and the road reopens.

Trenching gullies to the NW of the flood site as of Sunday 16th Feb:

   
 
 


Where is the water coming from?


It is suspected, but not proven, that the earthworks on the golf course that has been under construction for many years to the west of Green Street, just above the flood side and opposite Stubbs Farm may be implicated in changes in rainwater and surface drainage which has in turn caused this issue. It is, after all, the only significant change in the topography of the area.


Comments from a resident have concluded that the local high spot is 126m just south of the A404 close to the Garden Centre, and the local low spot is 106m adjacent to Green Street at the big dip and just west of the road.  It has been suggested that the bridleway that runs behind the Golf Course site (from the A404/Chenies down to Barrel Arch) is considerably drier than it used to be, and it might therefore be concluded that surface water that used to drain to the west down onto the bridleway may now be draining towards Green Street. But is this actually the case, and can others offer comments on the history of this area and its drainage?


Bus - no one is bovvered?


During periods of previous flooding, the Residents’ Association has taken Herts Intalink to task over the complete disregard for their duties to try to keep passengers informed of disruption to the 336 bus service in Chorleywood. It would appear that Herts Highways don’t see it as important to inform Intalink of the fact that they have closed a bus route, and even when Intalink became aware they neglected to include the details of the 336 bus being on diversion on their own Service Disruption webpage, nor be able to inform callers of this fact when calling their helpline. If Transport for Bucks and/or Carousel Buses are informing Hertfordshire Intalink, no action is being taken.


Experience from the most recent flooding hasn’t improved.


Martin Trevett, one of our district councillors has tried again to negotiate with the bus company to see if they could consider an alternative route through Chorleywood to maintain a service to the bus stops on Station Approach. But this is the kind of thing the Transport Authorities (Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire) should be doing.



Footnotes:


For the sake of clarity:

  • Highways are a County Council, not a District Council (Three Rivers) responsibility

  • In Hertfordshire, all public highways are maintained by Herts Highways, a department of Environmental Services within the county council

  • The Environment Agency often linked with flooding in the media has no responsibility for this issue as the water doesn’t come from a river or reservoir

  • The Highways Agency is also not involved - they only look after motorways and national trunk roads


A further note is that the dip in Green Street that is just south of Stubbs Farm has had a tendency to flood from time to time but its not usually deep enough to prevent traffic passing and the pavement is elevated hence allowing pedestrians to still pass, although they might get wet from spray off passing vehicles... Last year Herts Highways managed to improve the drainage at this point in the road after requests from Chorleywood Residents’ Association and the issues do not appear to continue to be such a significant a problem at this point in the road although there is still room for improvement.


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