As Britain battles horrific floods amid the climate emergency, a community is pleading for a rethink on plans for a new town on this land, designated a flood risk zone.
The Unity Project in South Yorkshire will have 3,100 homes, a school, marina, transport hub, shops, health centre and industrial units built around 200 acres of open space in 25 years.
But it is less than two miles from Fishlake in Doncaster, which was overwhelmed by floods when the Don burst its banks in November, causing such misery Boris Johnson was shamed into visiting South Yorkshire to see the damage.
His government is under fire for demanding 300,000 new homes are built a year, with a shortage of land meaning one in 10 in England will have to be developed on flood risk sites.
Residents around Stainforth and Hatfield fear the Unity Project will bring floods “misery”.
Local businessman Chis Skelton said: “It is a low-lying area, designated a flood risk area. If it becomes overdeveloped then the water will go god knows where. They should rethink the number of houses. Surely it’s a good, common sense thing to do?”
The Unity Project, to be built on land surrounding the former Hatfield Colliery, is one of the biggest mixed developments being built in the UK.
The Environment Agency designated the majority of the land a Flood Zone 3, with a one in 100 or greater annual probability of river flooding or one in 200 chance of sea flooding.
But it still got outline planning permission. A statement from residents in Hatfield, who opposed the extent of the scheme, said: “The planning inspectorate had suggested that areas that were less at risk of flood and possibly green belt ground should be considered or the risk of flooding should be reduced to an acceptable level.”
They said people in the area “would like to reduce and avoid the misery and huge cost of dealing with flooded homes and businesses”.
The statement added: “Climate change appears to mean extreme wet weather events are becoming more frequent and extensive.
“We would question again, ‘Is it necessary to build extensively at land at risk of flooding?’ And just what is an acceptable level of risk of flooding?”
Mr Skelton said: “We are not saying it should not go ahead, but it was the extent. This should be considered very carefully in the light of climate change.”
He said soil from the colliery pit was to be used to raise the levels homes were built on.
But he added: “Our concern is that would just displace the problem and the water would pop up somewhere else.”
Scott Cardwell, Doncaster Council’s assistant director for development, said: “The developers for Unity undertook detailed survey work including flood risk and drainage modelling in close liaison with the Environment Agency.
“This has resulted in the raising of land levels and floor levels of buildings as well as constructing sustainable drainage solutions to manage the surface water runoff.”
Developer Waystone also said extensive flood modelling had taken place.
Managing director Stuart McLoughlin said: “The Environment Agency imposed minimum finished floor levels for all the buildings. All buildings on the lower lying ground we have to raise the land by an average of two metres.”
He added: “At every development stage we have to do a new flood modelling.”
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