Thirty families will be forced to leave homes over winter after key ruling
- Credit: Mike Page
The risk of homes flooding in one Essex village poses such a high risk to life that families must move out over winter, a planning inspector has said.
The stand-off between residents in Point Clear and Tendring District Council has lasted for years, with people living in the holiday chalets in the area year-round.
This latest enforcement started in 2017 when the council ordered some homeowners to leave their properties from November to February.
A total of 78 notices were sent, with some people successfully appealing after showing their homes were not at risk of flooding.
However, 30 notices will now be enforced after the planning inspector supported the council's decision to tell residents to leave during winter, claiming the chance of a loss of life was too great to risk.
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Tendring District Council leader, Neil Stock, said: "Doing nothing here was not an option; if there is a significant flood event it is our duty to minimise the risk as much as we can for residents and indeed our emergency services who may be called into action.
"There has been some criticism of the costs incurred by the council in defending these appeals; however, not only is the cost per case lower than a standard appeal, what price would people put on lives?
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Residents have 14 months to make arrangements for alternative accommodation over the winter period - meaning they will not have to stop living there permanently until the end of October 2021.
Some of the residents can stay for up to 10 days over Christmas and New Year and also during winter weekends.
Though the inspector recognised the importance of residents' personal circumstances, it was outweighed by the flood risk.
In their decision they say: "While this is by no means an ideal situation, the existing condition still reduces the overall probability of risk to life.
"A disclaimer of some description would not overcome my concerns about risks from flooding."
Mr Stock said he hopes the decision will provide clarity for the residents and says the council will support them in finding winter accommodation.
"As climate change predicts a rise in sea levels this is a problem which is not going away," he added.