IT WOULD be "sheer lunacy" to give permission for 650 homes in flood-blighted Paddock Wood without an exhaustive review of its infrastructure.
The stark warning of "misery and loss of quality of life" for those living in the notoriously watery town came this week.
Peter Trent, who has lived in Paddock Wood all his life, spoke at a Tunbridge Wells Borough Council meeting on Monday.
He called for a full investigation of the town's infrastructure before any large-scale housing was allowed.
Last week, the council announced its preferred sites for the homes: a plot next to Church Road and at Mascalls Court Farm, Green Lane.
However, Mr Trent, a former flood defence officer for the Environment Agency, stressed that without action, homes risked being deluged with waste household water and surface water, with sewage potentially being forced back into residents' houses via their own pipes.
Mr Trent made his plea at the planning and transportation committee, which was scrutinising a draft council document which earmarks the homes for Paddock Wood. It has a target of building 500 by 2026 but has allowed for an extra 150 in case of changing need in the town.
Mr Trent urged councillors and planning officers: "The time to act is now, without delay. I am requesting that such an exercise is undertaken before any planning consent is granted to safeguard the existing residents of Paddock Wood."
Mr Trent added: "There should be no reason why any existing resident of Paddock Wood should suffer misery, loss of quality of life or blight through foul or surface water flooding resulting from any new permitted development."
He said developers usually made upgrades of the infrastructure as far as a pumping station.
But he warned the problem lurked at the pump and in the mains beyond, which could reach breaking point. Flood storage areas could also be needed, he said.
Councillors for Paddock Wood, Stan Ward and Elizabeth Thomas echoed his concerns.
Mrs Thomas said: "If you dig down six feet in Paddock Wood you find water. There is a saying here: 'If you're not dead when you're buried, you soon will be'."
After the meeting Mr Ward told the Courier: "The main problem is that when the Medway and Teise north of the railway bridge are in flood, tributaries that lead from Paddock Wood cannot disperse the water, and it back-floods."
He said measures to protect Paddock Wood would need "a lot of infrastructure and costs to achieve them".
He highlighted a previous council document, the core strategy, saying: "It states any developer must also deal with mitigation in terms of flooding, but should also be making a contribution towards helping alleviate existing flooding we have at the moment."