Homeowners may have to spend 'more than cost of a mortgage' to stop flooding

Some property owners have drainage systems in their back gardens, councillors have been told.
Some property owners have drainage systems in their back gardens, councillors have been told.

Homeowners living in new builds in the Wakefield district could be forced to spend hundreds of thousands on stopping their own houses being flooded, it's been suggested.

Sustainable drainage systems (SUDS), are often created on new estates to help soak up surface water and reduce the risk of the area flooding.

They often take the form of trenches, which are then grassed over.

But councillors have been told that although the local authority and developers own and maintain some of the SUDS which are located on public land, some of the systems have been built in the gardens of relatively new houses.

It means that the owners of those homes are legally responsible for their upkeep.

Without attention, the SUDS could malfunction, and this could result in entire areas being flooded.

Speaking at an economic and environmental scrutiny committee, Wakefield Council's team leader for flood risk management, said the issue was widespread across the country and a "concern".

Paul Maddison said: "A lot of the flood management systems are in private households’ back gardens.If they’re maintaining that themselves that’s quite a big ask for them. That’s the system we have at the moment unfortunately.

"There are some councils - Durham is one - where they are starting to do the maintenance themselves and then charging the households.

"It’s something we’ve looked at, but it’s a difficult one because, is that something the council wants to take on? If they're not properly maintained, then maybe 15 years down the line that becomes a real problem."

Wakefield East councillor Olivia Rowley said she was worried developers may avoid investing cash in SUDS they maintain, but also expressed concern about the bills facing households with a drainage system in their gardens.

She said: "The worry for me is households are already struggling to buy houses, and you see younger people having more and more problems with that.

There’s areas in my ward where developers haven’t cared for the local community in terms of dust and the way building has inconvenienced the neighbours. I find the whole thing very alarming.

"If homeowners have to pay some form of contractor to deal with this then they may end up paying more in the long term for that than what they pay on their mortgage."