Opposition Speech

July 27, 2019
Featured Image

Planning Meeting June 2019

All "quotes" taken from the public planning application document.

I wish to reinforce the legal presumptions of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservations Areas) Act 1990 and the requirement to apply ‘great weight’ to the conservation of designated heritage assets, and challenge that “Phase 1 in isolation (because there is no certainty that all three phases of the scheme will ever be completed)” DOES NOT “represent a significant public benefit that outweighs the harm”.

The HEA, regarding Heritage Assets, states: “Even with all of the proposed mitigation in place there will be a residual adverse impact on landscape and townscape character to the north of the town, and the proposals will cause harm to the significance of a number of heritage assets, specifically: Kendal Conservation Area; the setting of the grade II listed Parish Hall; and the setting and fabric of the scheduled monuments, Miller Bridge and Nether Bridge".

Several crucial and yet overlooked statements were also made by the Environment Agency officer-in-charge at the Aynam Road meeting in March:

When asked for his thoughts on the town flood defences being implemented before upstream catchment and release, the Officer concluded the order was “less than ideal;

When questioned in depth about the likelihood of Phases 2 & 3 going ahead he stated “it would be in the hands of the landowners and no compulsory purchase order would be applied”;

And when directly asked, “Does Phase 1 without 2 & 3 put Kendal’s bridges at risk?” his answer was an unequivocal, YES.

The walls alone, with no control over the flow rate, could increase the volume and water level to a potentially catastrophic level.

Lastly, while WE know that “the scheme will not, and was never intended to, protect the town from another Storm Desmond”, social media and The Westmorland Gazette continue to publish article after article showing pictures of storm Desmond relating to the flood scheme.

Local publications reassured people that there would be 6 trees planted for every 1 removed but failed to state that the new trees would not necessarily be in the same part of town.

Others led people to believe that the wall would be low and glass.

The presentation in the shopping centre even promised landscaping and planting schemes that cannot be delivered. When asked about the wide, two-level, grassy terrace with trees and a path at the southern end of Aynam Road, the EA officer replied, “the artist likely misinterpreted the photographs”.

These, however, are the “facts” and images that have been bought into by the people of Kendal, particularly those at risk. Tim Farron gave a very eloquent and passionate speech regarding people’s mental health and the effects of storm Desmond, but what when the truth finally hits home? Could the worst-case scenario be loss of life as people sit tight believing they are safe?

I ask, does the “modest” amount of protection offered by Phase 1 to 227 homes and 71 businesses, and increased risk to 20 homes, really outweigh the long-term harm to Kendal and its people?

Even the Environment Agency Chair, Emma Howard Boyd called for sustainable, natural flood management and resilience under the headline “we cannot win a war against water by building ever-higher flood defences”.

Editor note:

Please help us to Save The Heart of Kendal. Sign the petition https://www.change.org/p/secretary-of-state-for-environment-stop-review-and-revise-kendal-flood-management-scheme


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