Planning Bill from Queen’s Speech causes concern for flood risk mitigation

The Queen’s speech of 11th May 2021 outlined plans to bring the Planning Bill forward so new properties could be developed sooner. Authorities such as Flood Re and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) have raised concern that new homes are not built in areas of flood risk. The bill will attempt to make the Planning System ‘more efficient’ but with some concerned that local communities may not be involved on flooding issues.

Residential developments should ideally avoid areas at a risk of being flooded to minimize disruption to residents and the structure of the buildings. The storms that have occurred in the UK over the past few years, such as Storm Dennis, demonstrate that climate change, which is a major consideration in flood risk, is happening right now and our public adaptation needs to accelerate. Fiona Howie, chief executive at the TCPA, stated: “As the UK assumes global leadership in tackling climate change through COP26, we must act now to protect our communities from future climate risks and the devastation flooding causes.”

Flood Re, who purchase GeoSmart’s Groundwater Flood Risk Data, are running a scheme which brings down the cost of flood insurance for residents in high risk areas. Flood Re note that developments post-2009 and commercial properties are not featured in this scheme and therefore property owners may be at risk of significant insurance premiums.

In a joint letter in The Times to the Government, Flood Re and the TCPA requested that:

  1. New homes are built in the right places and of the right quality to meet the challenges of climate change;
  2. New homes are not developed inappropriately in areas at risk of flooding, and;
  3. Communities have a legal right to feed in their local expertise and have their voices heard in planning decisions that affect risk in their areas.

“Ensuring the three steps that we have highlighted are introduced will leave homeowners less vulnerable to flooding and hence able to shop around for affordable insurance,” said Andy Bord, chief executive of Flood Re; “Homes that are built now must last for generations to come and therefore we must ensure that they are fit for purpose and flood risk is considered.”

So, what can be done to mitigate flood risk?

GeoSmart regularly produce site specific Flood Risk Assessments for developers and property purchasers. A Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) is required for any planning application where the site of the proposed development is located within Flood Zones 2 or 3 as defined by the Environment Agency. Such sites are at risk of flooding and the Environment Agency and local planning authorities have the power to challenge planning applications that have not taken into account all of the flood risks involved. In addition to river and coastal flooding, which are covered by the flood zones for planning, other types of flooding such as surface water (intense rainfall run-off) and groundwater should also be considered by a prudent property owner. You could even find you need an FRA for Sites within a Flood Zone 1 if over 1ha in size, if the site has a high risk of surface water flooding, or if the site is within a critical drainage area.

Our FRAs recommend clear flood mitigation and management options and include a professional opinion from expert flood risk consultants.

Please contact us is you would like to discuss your site.