How developers can avoid drowning in the floods.

In light of the recent flooding across the UK, flood prevention will inevitably be on a large cross-section of the British public’s minds. However it still seems that flood risk is not addressed early enough in the development process, often leading to the delayed determination of planning applications.

With the waters from recent flooding events finally receding, Amanda Olley, Managing Director of Cheshire based planning consultancy, Summit Planning Associates, explains the importance of giving detailed consideration to flood risk matters from the very beginning of a development project.

The BBC reported that the late-September floods were caused by the most violent storm that particular month had seen in 30 years. At one point the water in the River Ouse, York, was up to five metres above normal level, while a couple in Wrexham lost their lives to a swollen river.
ITV reported that resulting damage could cost around £20,000 per household, while The Association of British Insurers expected the costs of home, commercial property and motor insurance claims to reach the “low hundreds of millions of pounds”.

The biggest source of information throughout this time was the Environment Agency (EA), with advice and flood warnings delivered either through their web site, or via the major news outlets.

The recently published National Planning Policy Framework sets out the broad policy objectives for the development of land in areas of flood risk, and is accompanied by detailed practice guidance to inform policy makers within the Local Planning Authority, while guiding applicants and consultants in the preparation of acceptable Flood Risk Assessments.

Amanda Olley has experienced first-hand how failure to give an appropriate level of focus to flood risk at the front end of the development process can result in significant delay to the determination of planning applications.

Amanda stated: “The Environment Agency continues to adopt an increasingly cautionary approach to the development of land in areas of flood risk, and the onus is on the developer to ensure that appropriately detailed Flood Risk Assessments accompany planning application submissions. Without this, applicants run the risk that either their applications will not be validated following submission, or the EA will submit a standing objection to development proposals.

“Take the time to secure all available information upfront and, where necessary, carry out additional modelling which will ensure the preparation of robust Flood Risk Assessments, that will stand up to close scrutiny and avoid unnecessary delays after the submission of an application.”

Amanda Olley is an expert planning consultant with 12 years experience. For further advice, please contact her at Summit Planning Associates via Tel: 01625 801800 or E-Mail: