Couple claim their £437,000 home was ‘ruined’ by floodwater and is now unsellable because of ‘drainage issues’ on nearby new build estate
- Bishop’s Stortford couple want the developer to take responsibility
- Countryside say flooding ‘was not directly caused by inadequate drainage’
A couple has claimed their £437,000 home is unsellable and has been ‘ruined’ by floodwater which came crashing into their property due to drainage issues at a nearby new build estate.
Neil, 49, and Sarah Cranston, 50, who have four children, had to temporarily move out due to the damage caused by the floods.
The couple said damp is now a huge problem in their house which backs onto land where new estate St James’ Park in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire is being built.
Adding to their stress, they were told the house could be unsellable by an estate agent. The pair want developer Countryside to take responsibility and compensate the family for damage and distress caused.
Countryside said the September flooding was caused by ‘temporary ground conditions’ and ‘was not directly caused by inadequate drainage for the development’.
The couple say their has been ‘ruined’ by floodwater which came crashing into their property due to drainage issues at a nearby new build estate
Neil and Sarah Cranston said their £437,000 home is unsellable and has been ‘ruined’ by floodwater which came crashing into their property due to drainage issues at a nearby new build estate
Pictures and video show the extent of flooding, with inches-deep water pooled around the ground floor
Chemical process operator Neil said: ‘We moved back here in August 2022 and since then we’ve got all the damp coming back again.
READ MORE: Furious residents who paid up to £300k for their new homes are living ‘in a nightmare’ after finding them ‘plagued with dodgy electrics, foul smells and crumbling brickwork’
‘They just say there was drainage [on the neighbouring development] but there was not – and because of the damp problems we can’t sell the house now.
‘No one is accepting responsibility, the developers aren’t really saying much and the council aren’t accepting responsibility.
‘My wife has been in and out of hospital with high blood pressure and stress-related health conditions. It’s taken its toll on us and still is now.’
Sarah said: ‘Mentally I am struggling – at the end of the day this is leading to more and more stress.
‘My job is stressful enough, being a midwife is one of the most hugely responsible jobs you can have, and my home is supposed to be safety net and safe haven.
‘Right now I’ve got no future, I’m paying a mortgage over the odds and I cant go to another lender.
‘It’s not fair and I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.’
Neil and Sarah claim it was in June 2021 the first flood happened – the developer says it was September
Pictured: The water Neil and Sarah Cranston say came crashing into their 1640s property
The couple said damp is now a huge problem in their house following the floods. Adding to their stress, they were told the house could be unsellable by an estate agent
Neil said they were aware negotiations were ongoing for a housing development behind the home when they purchased it in 2019, for £437,000.
READ MORE: Furious residents are told they may be unable to sell or re-mortgage their new build homes which could be ‘worthless’ because developers did not get appropriate planning permission
The first phase of homes then became available at St James’ Park in summer 2021, according to the Countryside website.
Neil and Sarah claim it was in June 2021 the first flood happened. They said their house flooded after a heavy summer downpour onto land which had been compacted with no drainage – leaving excess water running into their garden and patio.
And just a few months later in September they suffered a major flood which forced them to move out of the house entirely.
Pictures and video show the extent of flooding, with inches-deep water pooled around the ground floor.
Neil said: ‘When we purchased the house, we were told there were negotiations for a new housing development behind us and it could go ahead, but they were fighting it.
‘Within two years the development had gone ahead. They’ve flooded our house due to poor planning and not putting any drainage in place.
‘They stripped the land of all the topsoil and compacted it into almost tarmac, there was no drainage and it flooded – we reported it and nothing was done.
The Cranston’s property backs onto land being developed for the estate, which will feature schools, shops and hundreds of houses
The couple want developer Countryside to accept responsibility
‘The first floor wasn’t major, it was mostly the garden and patio area, but in September it was a major flood.
‘We went up [to the development] that day and complained.’
READ MORE: Get off OUR land! The rise of NIMBY armies battling big housing developers with eyes on their local area
The couple fear they are now stuck and won’t be able to sell the property, which dates back to the 1640s.
Neil said: ‘We’re fighting the case but we’re getting nowhere and these big building companies are getting away with building on unsuitable land.
‘Countryside is such a big company. They think they can walk all over people, but I won’t go away.
‘My house is ruined, and I can’t sell it.’
A spokesperson for Countryside said: ‘The Cranstons’ home experienced flooding on one occasion, in September 2021, this was not directly caused by inadequate drainage for the development but by temporary ground conditions that were the result of work carried out by a specialist subcontractor who retained design responsibility for the work.
‘We were in communication with the Cranston’s following this incident, and work was undertaken to rectify the damage by the subcontractor appointed by the Cranstons’ house insurance company – and any complications in repairing the damage will need to be addressed by them.
Developer Countryside said the September flooding was caused by ‘temporary ground conditions’ and ‘was not directly caused by inadequate drainage for the development’
Neil and Sarah claim their house was flooded for the first time in June 2021 and has left it ‘unsellable’
‘We would highlight that this was an isolated flooding event that took place in September 2021, and has not reoccurred.
‘The groundworks subcontractor has undertaken all necessary mitigation measures to ensure there is not a repeat of the flooding and we do not consider that there is any evidence of the drainage patterns having been altered by the development.
‘As this is subject to an ongoing claim we cannot comment further.’
Countryside said it could not provide subcontractor’s details.
A spokesperson for East Herts District Council said: ‘We are very sorry for the challenges that Mrs Cranston and her family are currently facing with their property on Thorley Street.
‘In 2021, Mrs Cranston contacted us regarding a flooding incident, which was thought to be linked to archaeological excavations before the construction of St. James’ Park began.
‘It is our understanding that this matter was appropriately referred at the time to the developers as a civil issue.
‘This summer, Mrs Cranston got in touch again, this time concerning a rising damp problem within her property.
The couple said their house flooded after a heavy summer downpour onto land which had been compacted with no drainage
‘Mrs Cranston’s local councillor has been out to the property and visited her several times to understand the issues so that they could be reported to our planning teams for further investigation.
‘We can confirm that a Flood Risk Assessment and Surface Water Drainage Strategy were submitted and agreed with the Lead Local Flood Authority at the County Council.
‘These demonstrated that the development could be achieved with appropriate sustainable drainage systems, to prevent issues of surface water run-off.
‘Conditions were also imposed that require the developer demonstrates that each phase of the development provides adequate sustainable drainage.
‘We understand that surveys are being undertaken at the property to establish the cause of the rising damp and have asked Mrs Cranston to provide this evidence to us to help further our investigations.’
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