Housing: Floods

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 1st February 2008.

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Photo of Eric Pickles Eric Pickles Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many residential dwellings were built within flood risk areas in England in each year since 1997.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Minister of State (Department of Communities and Local Government) (Housing)

It is the responsibility of local authorities to plan properly for their housing provision, on the basis of specific sites that reflect clear and informed strategies for the location of housing development, and for the infrastructure needed to service it. Of course flood risk is a major factor in deciding the location of new development and the Government's aim is to avoid inappropriate development in such areas. We have strengthened the system significantly—new planning rules introduced last year (PPS25) make clear that councils should not give the go ahead to new housing in areas where the Environment Agency advise against it. The new rules are already beginning to have an impact and it is vital that councils continue to work with the Environment Agency to ensure that new homes are safe from flooding and property sustainable for the future. Flood risk must be taken into account at all stages of the planning process. Development that would not be safe in the higher flood risk areas should be directed to areas of lower risk wherever this is practicable.

The following table gives the information requested and relates to the period before the planning system was strengthened:

New dwellings built in high flood risk areas
1997 13,400
1998 11,700
1999 12,400
2000 12,100
2001 11,300
2002 13,000
2003 14,900
2004 15,200
2005 13,700
Notes:

1. There is an inevitable time-lag between land use change occurring and it being recorded, therefore data are constantly being updated.

2. The data in the table are based on records received from Ordnance Survey up to June 2007.

Source:

Communities and Local Government completions data (2007),

Source data: Land Use Change Statistics data (LUCS 22A, October 2007)

The definition of high flood risk areas used by Communities and Local Government is the high risk zone mapped by the Environment Agency as being at a probability of flooding, excluding the presence of flood defences, of at least one in 100 each year for river flooding and at least one in 200 for coastal flooding. High flood risk areas account for about 10 per cent. of land in England, including parts of major cities such as London.

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