A HUGE and controversial housebuilding plan for the edge of York could finally start work in 2016, despite the land around it being hit by floods again this winter.
The row over housing plans for Germany Beck has re-emerged with locals and councillors asking whether building should go ahead.
They say that with floods in the area becoming more and more frequent, questions must be raised over the whether new homes on the site will flood, or if building on the land will make flooding worse nearby.
The 650 home Germany Beck site, owned by Persimmon, was given planning permission in May 2007 but locals have bitterly fought the plans which they say will damage the historic site of the first crucial battle of 1066.
In December and January, land around the housing site ended up under water as the River Ouse rose and burst its banks.
Now Persimmon has said the houses are going ahead with work starting by March this year - and they have said the development will not be at flood risk and could even lessen the flood fears in the area.
The company's deputy managing director in York Simon Usher said the Germany Beck homes have complied with national government flood guidelines.
He said: "The houses themselves will be on elevated land, already high enough to avoid flooding and the scheme offers the opportunity to raise the A19, reducing the chances of future road closure at times of flooding from the River Ouse. The water that will be displaced from the A19 area will be stored in a specially designed nature park."
Parts of the designs have been specifically added to lessen flood risk, he added, by slowing the rate rain water leaves the site and enters the public sewers or streams.
Mr Usher said: "The site will incorporate oversized drainage pipes to store run-off water which will then enter the Beck at a lower rate than it currently does from the neighbouring farmer’s field. This is a common water management system that can help to reduce flood damage and reduce the rate at which water levels rise.
"The recent flooding is tragic for homeowners and businesses and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time. We believe the steps we have taken for our Germany Beck site will help alleviate people’s concerns by not only improving access into the city during flooding but also reassuring the public that we are not building in a flood area."
But the area's city councillor has spoken out while the parish council has voiced fears that some houses will not in fact be on the higher "zone 1" and questioned whether the crucial guidance has been followed.
In a statement, the parish council said: "The parish council and residents of Fulford have grave concerns, not only about flood risk but also the impact on drainage infrastructure, traffic congestion, air quality, wildlife and very importantly, the catastrophic destruction of an internationally significant battle site."
The councillors said they and other people in Fulford are "extremely concerned" about proposals to raise the A19 and build a new raised access road across the floodplain. "The increased frequency of flooding events in recent years only serves to intensify these concerns."
City councillor Keith Aspden said: "As residents and business across York continue to recover, the recent flooding at Germany Beck and the surrounding area throws into light the huge problem with building around 650 houses at the site. There have now been two significant flooding incidents since the developers cleared the land and the flood plain is now more obvious than ever.
“Residents have significant concerns and are right to ask fresh questions of Persimmon Homes. I will continue to make the case to the developers that they need to listen to local residents and properly address these concerns.
“This is also an issue for the Government. Persimmon Homes say they have complied with national guidelines, but given the increase in recent flooding and climate change many are now asking whether this national guidance needs to be reviewed.”