Don’t buy a house in a flood plain – or you may find many of your dreams washed away!
The definition of a high risk flood zone, according to the Environment Agency, is one where there is a 1:30 change of flooding in any year. In a medium risk zone there is a 1:100 chance of flooding in any year.
The government’s Committee on Climate Change 2018 report estimated that by 2080, 1.5 million properties in England could be located in areas significantly at risk of flooding.
Unearthed, the journalism project of Greenpeace UK, has discovered that over 10,000 homes are currently being planned to be built in areas of England that are most prone to flooding, including areas of Doncaster and Sheffield which have recently been badly hit.
Over 5,200 homes are being planned to be built in areas of Lincolnshire in high risk flood zones where there are currently five flood warnings to roads and farmland. Boston UFC’s new 5,000 seater stadium development is planned in the same area.
In addition, 5,123 more homes are being planned for areas designated ‘medium risk’ including a 3,100 home ‘new town’ close to Stainforth, in North Yorkshire. Stainforth is two miles from Fishlake, where hundreds of homes have recently been evacuated in an area that is a combination of high and medium risk zones. The proposed new town project has not yet received full planning permission but ironically it includes a marina and is in an area designated for development by the local authority.
The Environment Agency says that local authorities are responsible for the final decision on whether to build homes in their areas, although the National Planning Policy Framework is clear that building in areas with a high risk of flooding ‘should be avoided’. Although the local authority will ask the Environment Agency to advise during the planning process, this advice can either rejected or accepted with conditions, and the local authority is under no obligation to abide by the Agency’s advice or to report back on its decision.
The Environment Agency has objected to 14,532 planning applications of nearly 250,000 homes in the last five years and says that 99.4% of new home planning applications in 2017/18 had taken account of its flood risk advice. However, not all planning applications are reported back to the Environment Agency by local planning authorities and Unearthed has found that in 44% of cases in 2017/18 the Agency did not know whether its advice had been followed.
If you’re buying property in a potentially flood risk area, ask a Chartered Surveyor for advice before purchasing your home.