Increasingly, one of the big concerns has been about the scale of excavations for basements and the effect that has on water flow for flooding or redirecting of underwater flows. There's at least one such application (actually a proposed amendment to an approved application) in my ward now, on Woodside Avenue at the rear of Lauradale Road.
One of the ways the Planning Committee, made up of councillors from across Haringey, tries to deal with concerns of residents on this front is to slap a condition on planning permission that a hydrology report must be produced before digging work begins. All sounds like a sensible check and maybe that's the end of the problem?
Well, the $64,000 question is - what exactly counts as a hydrology report? I asked the council exactly this a month or two ago and was told this is what is needed to satisfy a condition like that if attached to planning permission:
When a hydrology report is submitted to discharge a planning condition it is expected that it is produced by a professional with the requisite expertise and the report should set out the expertise the author has. The report would be expected to assess the impact of the development on the hydrology of the area. The exact contents would depend on the ground conditions and geology of the area.
After submission the report will be assessed by planning officers taking account of local knowledge of the hydrology of the area and where necessary the expertise of the Council’s Flood and Surface Water Manager and the Council’s Building Control Department will be sought.
That's fairly vague, I'd say, and certainly in the past there have been hydrology reports that have had little more than a cursory "yeah, everything probably ok" sort of approach. For me, the responsibility really has to rest with the developer to provide a proper and fair analysis of what the effects of their work will be.
I'd be interested to hear from people either from Haringey or other council areas who have had good or bad experiences when it comes to hydrology reports and planning permission - you can contact me using the box on the top right of this blog.