Development still not connected to sewage system nine years after being informed by Southern Water there was not enough capacity.

A Shepway Vox Team Investigation has discovered that as of today 05/10/21, according to Southern Water, the development known as Shoreline (Where the land meets the Sea) or to locals, Folkestone Seafront Development (pictured),  has not applied for a S104 (Section 104 of the Water Industry Act (1991)) agreement with Southern Water to connect to the mains sewage system.

According to Southern Water, the developer was informed this would be necessary back in 2012 due to “insufficient capacity within the system

A s104 is a legal agreement between a developer and a water company, where the developer agrees to build sewers to an agreed standard then Southern Water will adopt it. The agreement is usually signed at the early stage of the development and lasts for several years, until the water company is satisfied the network has been completed to their satisfaction. This whole process takes up to two years. Yet the development company have been informed for the last 9 years this is necessary and nothing as yet has been done, according to Southern Water.

A year ago, Plot B of the seafront development, since named Shoreline, had got as far as the first storey, having had an unscheduled pause due to the pandemic weeks after work commenced in January 2020. It now stands at its full height, which has caused much debate amongst locals who didn’t appreciate the scale of a 27.5-metre-tall building until they saw it in person. Unfortunately, the delay seemed to cause Folkestone Harbour Company to forget that they had several conditions that needed fulfilling before building above ground level. This oversight was rectified after our article went out and details have been approved by Folkestone & Hythe District Council. However, a look back at the planning history for the project reveals another potential hold-up – Southern Water have repeatedly mentioned that the sewer network will need upgrading, and such work can take 2 years to implement.

The project has several approved planning applications, which form the wider plan, most noticeably:

· Outline application Y12/0897/SH

· Section 73 Minor Material Amendment Y17/1099/SH

· Reserved Matters for Plot B Y18/1252/FH

In 2012, Southern Water responded to outline application Y12/0897/SH, saying that “there is currently inadequate capacity in the local network to provide foul sewage disposal to service the proposed development”. The Shepway Vox Team have obtained a copy of the report, which states:

There is currently inadequate capacity within the local foul sewerage network to accommodate a flow of 48.9 and 35.2 l/s at manhole reference TR23350701. The proposed development would increase flows to the local network and as a result existing properties and land may be subject to a greater risk of flooding. Additional off-site sewers or improvements to existing sewers will be required to provide sufficient capacity to service the proposed development.

The report goes on to say that the nearest point with available capacity is Broomfield Bank Water Treatment Works at Hougham. Either the appropriate infrastructure has to be provided by Southern Water, or the developer can carry out off site reinforcement works, for which a level 2 capacity flow assessment would be needed. We are not aware that the developer requested the work commence at that time. Apparently, “it may be several years before adequate infrastructure is provided”, so the development was “considered premature” until that happened. You would think a ‘sooner rather than later’ approach would be favoured considering such a potential hold-up. However, the developer could discharge foul flow no greater than current levels into the current network, which appears to have been the preferred option for Plot B. A surface water capacity check was not requested, so Southern Water assumed this would be disposed of “by alternative means i.e. soakaways or any local drainage watercourses”, though this would be subject to approval.

Further documents stated that their comments “remain unchanged and valid” following another submission in 2013 and the S73 application and subsequent alterations in 2017. However, the amendments saw a reshuffle of bedroom quantities. The number of houses decreased from 261 to 239, thus 739 apartments became 761. This allowed an extra 19 bedrooms in houses. Significantly, though, reducing single bedroom apartments from 256 to 3 saw an increase in 2-4 bedroom apartments, giving them a total of 2,200 bedrooms, which was previously 1,609. This is an increase of over 25%. Surely this increase in occupants means more water usage, more bums on toilets and thus an increase in foul flow rates?

When reserved matters application Y18/1252/FH was submitted, Southern Water reiterated the increased risk of flooding without network reinforcement, stating that they and the developer “will need to work together in order to review if the delivery of our network reinforcement aligns with the proposed occupation of the development, as it will take time to design and deliver any such reinforcement.” It seems the option of the developer providing reinforcement works is off the table, though some initial properties may still be connected to the existing network. They then requested the following condition be applied:

Occupation of the development is to be phased and implemented to align with the delivery by Southern Water of any sewerage network reinforcement required to ensure that adequate waste water network capacity is available to adequately drain the development

They went on to state they will carry out detailed network modelling in order to ascertain what works, if any, are needed. The design of a new network would take up to 24 months “from a firm commitment by the developer to commence construction on site”. They reiterated that the developer has still not indicated how they intend to deal with surface water disposal, which must not flow to a public foul sewer, stating:

“We request that should this application receive planning approval, the following condition is attached to the consent: “Construction of the development shall not commence until details of the proposed means of foul and surface water sewerage disposal have been submitted to, and approved in writing by, the Local Planning Authority in consultation with Southern Water.””

The Council did not implement either condition in the decision notice; the Officer explaining in his report that “these matters would not constitute appropriate or reasonable conditions for this Reserved Matters application”, pointing out that Condition 27 of Y17/1099/SH requires a surface water management strategy before commencing work and that “foul drainage falls under a separate regime with the stated intention to connect to mains sewers placing an obligation on the statutory operator to plan for and delivery the network capacity to accommodate the development through their infrastructure plan.

Application Y19-1340/FH dealt with conditions 27 (surface water drainage scheme) and 31 (contamination). After a holding objection due to insufficient documents, Southern Water, the Environment Agency and Idom Merebrook were satisfied the conditions should be passed.

We understand that a level 2 capacity flow assessment still hasn’t been carried out and plans for a network upgrade still have not seen fruition. Nor according to Southern Water has a s104 application been made to date, as we made clear at the beginning of this piece. Hopefully, Shoreline will be connected to a sewer system with sufficient capacity, or the proverbial might hit the fan.

All quotes and information in this blog post have been taken directly from a EiR response and communications with Southern Water.

The Shepway Vox Team

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3 Comments on Development still not connected to sewage system nine years after being informed by Southern Water there was not enough capacity.

  1. If someone wanted to purchase a property in this development would their solicitor be able to obtain this information when conducting a local authority search as part of the conveyancing process? Equally, is the developer under any obligation to bring this information to the attention of prospective buyers?

    Having read this article I would be very wary about proceeding with a purchase. I would want a written assurance from the developer that the cost of any future sewage works would be met by themselves and not added to the service charges that residents will be required to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the homes within the development.


    Although the situations may differ residents should also recall (see links above) the problems residents in Horn St experienced.

    Shepway Vox should offer the Folkestone Harbour Company the opportunity to explain what is going on and what reassurance they can offer to prospective purchasers and nearby local residents who may be adversely affected if these problems are not rectified,

  3. The area will be flooded in 20 years time.

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