Government accused of hypocrisy over building in at-risk flood areas

Building on flood plains has to stop

Denbighshire County Council’s planning officers recommended that an affordable housing development should be built, even though it would mean building in an at-risk flood area, on land that had previously flooded.

The development of 77 houses was planned to be built close to the River Clwyd, near Ruthin, and had attracted severe opposition because of flood risk to buildings and potential traffic issues.

However, we are delighted that Denbighshire County Council has rejected the proposal.

The developer, Clwyd Alyn Housing, was disappointed with the outcome but still intends to provide ‘solutions to the problem with housing supply in the county’ by moving forward with housing development on the site.

Between 2016 and 2019, planning permission was granted for the building of 2,159 homes in Wales that were known to be at risk of flooding. 652 planning approvals for new homes were received in 2018-19 alone – 167 of which were in at-risk areas.

In addition, over 3,000 acres of land received approval for non-residential planning in the same areas but only 246 planning applications for new homes were rejected over the same period.

Campaigners, including Greenpeace UK and Natural Resources Wales have warned about the consequences of building homes and other properties on flood plains and high-risk areas.

The Welsh Government has blamed local authorities for granting planning permission for residential development in areas known to be at risk of flooding. And why wouldn’t they, when government money is available to local authorities as a reward for building more new-build houses – whether they are needed locally or not.

We have previously discussed the Flood Re scheme that protects some homeowners – but it does not cover homes built after 1st January 2009. Why?

To avoid ‘incentivising the building of new homes’ in flood risk areas

Some residents and local councillors have accused the Welsh government of hypocrisy, saying that they had ignored local concerns. They have a point: Wrexham Council rejected a planning application for 130 homes in Rossett 2019 but a year later the Welsh Housing Minister overturned the decision.

In 2007, a development close to the Ebbw River in Newport went ahead after the Welsh Assembly Committee overturned a planning inquiry decision that led to 150 new homes being built at Tredegar Park – a natural floodplain. However, 2020’s Storm Dennis resulted in new-build homes being flooded just a short distance up the Ebbw River, in Bassaleg.

Organisation such as Future Climate Info have warned home buyers and rental tenants of the risk of living in a home in a flood-risk area. Isn’t it time developers and conveyancers to be held accountable – for letting people buy these properties and for building them there in the first place?

If you’re buying a property in any area, especially one prone to flooding, a Chartered Surveyor will be able to help.

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