Developers should be banned from building on floodplains, according to a new report by think tank Localis, which warns growing numbers of homes are at risk from escalating flood risks.
The new report, titled Plain Dealing – building for flood resilience, today sets out a series of policy recommendations for the UK government to help manage the increasing flood risks many properties face.
At the heart of the report are calls for development on floodplains to be avoided where possible, and where it is unavoidable, for appropriate flood defences to be constructed. As such the report calls on the government to set up a specific cross-departmental task force for flood-risk development.
Research carried out by Localis found that the effects of climate change and rising housing demand have resulted in more floods affecting properties in at-risk areas. This year, 200 planning permissions have been granted on floodplain land for over 5,000 homes in the highest-risk local authorities in the country, it said. Over 4,000 of these homes are in areas pre-identified as highly likely to flood.
“We know that climate change is intensifying, flooding is increasing, and housing pressures are rising,” said Grace Newcombe, lead researcher in clean growth at Localis. “Floodplain development necessarily sits at the intersection of these demands but it must not come at the expense of individual and community safety.”
Jonathan Werran, chief executive of Localis, said the number of houses being built on floodplains could increase by 50 per cent in the next half century. “There is a clear need to reset government policy and regulation to prevent an otherwise unavoidable 50 per cent uptick in the numbers of houses being built on floodplains over the next half century,” he said. “At the same time, with climate change another unavoidable reality, we need to strengthen communities to become resilient in adapting to, living with and responding to flood pressures.”
In addition to establishing a flood-risk development task force, Localis recommends Defra and the Department of Levelling up, Housing, and Communities set up a new ministerial post between them to oversee the task force. The task force would manage flood resilience spending, which the government should make available to upgrade and maintain flood defences.