Contaminated Land Identified as Environmental Factor Most Likely to Cause Upset to a Housing Development

A recent survey by Development+Infrastructure identified contaminated land as the environmental factor most likely to cause upset to a housing development, followed by flood risk, more details here.

Once again it shows that the importance of taking advice at the earliest stage cannot be over stated. As my grandmother used to say, forewarned is forearmed.

‘UK must build flood resilient homes’ says RIBA

Currently 1 in 6 homes in the UK are at risk of flooding – a number that is expected to double by 2050

Flooding causes an average of £1.4 billion of damage each year to businesses and households

RIBA’s The Value of Flood Resilient Architecture and Design report calls for innovation and regulation change, to ensure both new build and existing properties are flood resilient and future proof

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has (Thursday 3 May) published a new report outlining what the Government needs to do to help create homes and communities that are resilient to flood damage. RIBA’s The Value of Flood Resilient Architecture and Design report stresses that the UK can no longer base its approach to managing flood risk on simply keeping the water out. The Government needs to enable communities to manage their risks. This means better equipping people and businesses to live with water; being able to stop water entering their properties and speeding recovery if it does.

The RIBA report advocates building flood resilient homes and buildings. To do this it recommends that the Government develops a new approach to tackling flooding threats, one that encourages innovation in flooding resilience in the housing and urban design sector. It recommends specific building regulations for flood resilience and resistance, thereby ensuring that these are taken up in any building exposed to flood risk.

The report concludes that embedding flood resilient design will help future-proof new developments and deliver greater value for money when investments in new flood defences are made. In addition, there is room for the UK to become a leader in this area, paving the way with innovative responses and solutions to flooding.

RIBA President Ben Derbyshire said:

“In the next 30 years, the number of homes at risk of flooding is expected to double. Now is the time to adapt and think creatively about how to tackle this threat. The RIBA urges the Government to step up and encourage the collaboration and innovation needed to create new homes and communities that are resilient to the devastating effects of flooding.”


The report makes five key recommendations for Government:

Improved decision-making processes which address a broader range of factors and potential solutions to water management issues

Pilot ‘Licences for Innovation’ to examine the effectiveness of new approaches to managing flood risk in new development to flooding and ensure all new buildings incorporate appropriate measures

Examine the potential for regulations on flood resilience to be linked to Flood Zone Designations through Building Regulations and planning policy

Regulate to ensure that all new developments in flood risk areas demonstrate reduced exposure and vulnerability to flood damage as well as broader benefits to the resilience of the local area

Encourage greater uptake of flood-resilient design by home and building owners exposed to flood risk

New Action Plan to Give Owners Advice & Better Protection from Flooding


This independent action plan report aims to help people protect their homes and businesses from the risk of flooding and also to recover more quickly if the worst happens.

The Property Flood Resilience Action Plan explores the role of building regulations and certification, in encouraging use of flood resistant construction methods and how rigorous independent standards can help to establish confidence in flood products.

It considers ways in which insurers can offer greater support for property owners installing flood resistant measures, particularly at the repair stage with advice targeted at home owners, business owners and third parties such as insurers.

A one stop advice portal, www.centre4resilience.org, has been established to make it easier to find the most relevant information on better protecting your home or business against flooding.

The advice includes precautionary actions to take to better protect property from flooding, actions to take if a property is in imminent danger from flooding, live flood warnings, recent case studies and research.


ICE calls for legal force to Anti-Flood Measures

Engineers have called for laws to force developers to introduce anti-flood measures when connecting new houses to existing drainage systems.

The ICE is among several bodies backing an amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill, which is currently in the House of Lords.

The organisations want the amendment to back up planning guidance intended to enforce use of systems such as sustainable urban drainage systems (Suds). The amendment was tabled by Baroness Parminter, Baroness Young and Lord Krebs.

Flooding expert and former ICE president David Balmforth said: “Flooding is one of the major challenges facing society today, yet we continue to add to the problem by building new homes in a way that makes flooding more likely. This does not have to be the case as there is a proven and low cost solution using Suds. We urge the Lords to send the Commons a Bill that will help protect society from flooding.”

The role engineers take in delivering high quality drainage was recognised by major revisions to Suds guidance published last year.

Flood policy ‘Turning the Tide’

As a contribution to the debate around flooding and flood resilience the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has produced a report, ‘Turning the Tide’, in which it has invited the government to adopt the following ten point plan:

Initiate a national debate on the priorities of future capital expenditure for flood defence.

Review the UK’s comparatively low protection criteria and the 1:8 cost benefit ratio for flood defence approval.

Make the Resilience Direct database more accessible. Aggregate disparate databases into one national data bank.

Introduce an easily understood flood risk scale.

Use smart technology to improve the quality of warnings. Make Environment Agency alerts ‘opt-out’.

Make flooding a primary consideration in planning policy and continue to clarify SuDS standards.

Support innovative British property level protection firms both domestically and internationally.

Review the Repair and Renew Grant so that it is a genuine, long-term incentive for individuals to improve their property defences.

Reform Flood Re so that it includes SME property, ensure policy holders are rewarded for improving their defences by reducing premiums.

Consider restructuring the Environment Agency and setting up a new Water Agency.

Commenting, EIC’s Executive Director Matthew Farrow said:

“Flood policy needs a reboot, otherwise we will continue to see so-called 1 in a 100 year floods causing untold damage and misery every few years. We need some specific changes, such as extending FloodRe protection to small businesses, and making the Repair and Renew Grant a permanent scheme that incentivises home-owners in at-risk areas to invest in property-level protection. But we also need to rethink our approach to flood risk more widely. How can we make better use of ‘big data’ to identify and anticipate flood risk and potential flood damage? And should the economic value of areas be the main criteria for prioritising flood defences?”

Flood Insurance Solution or Another Deckchair Arrangement?

The UK’s new residential flood insurance scheme will enable insurers to offer affordable policies to the many owners of properties at risk of flooding. It works by charging all home insurers a fee which with other charges to insurers using the scheme will pay for flood claims.

All home owners are likely to find that they are chipping in as insurers add a small amount to all policies to cover the fees they pay to the scheme. So we will all subsidise the policies of homes that are in flood areas.

The price of the flood element of an insurance policy will be fixed according to the home’s council tax band. A home owner in band A would pay £210 a year for buildings and contents flood cover, rising to £1,200 for band H.

The Association of British Insurers is advising home owners to wait and shop around rather than rush to renew a policy before it is due as there will be more choice as more insurers sign up.

In the small print there are various limitations, for example homes built since 2009 will not be covered to discourage further development on flood plains.

According to a report from Fitch Ratings it reduces the financial incentive for policyholders to make flood resilience improvements to their properties and for the government to invest in flood defences. So while some of the money will go towards improving flood defences, the scheme is certainly not a solution to the problem of homes flooding. Would the outcome have been different if King Canute had been able to apply to this new scheme? Perhaps the real question is should we be insuring these properties or knocking them down and rebuilding in more sensible locations?

Calls for flood protection for new housing estates

The Environmental Audit Committee has published a report calling for flood resistant measures to be included in new housing estates. It also says the Government should be more proactive with its climate change adaptation policies.