Friday, 21 February 2014

Planning for flood plains

There is coverage this morning of an open letter from seventeen professional bodies calling for 'a major rethink of how Britain plans both its towns and the countryside to prevent homes and businesses flooding in future.' In the Telegraph David Cameron is urged to lead a 'planning revolution'.

The letter can be read here.

From a planning point of view, calls to fit sustainable drainage systems (SUDs) for new buildings and making all new housing on flood plains resilient when built do not require a planning revolution. They are consistent with existing policy and within the gift of individual local planning authorities (though I'm not sure, practically, how you would go about fitting SUDs for existing buildings)

What drew my eye in particular though are the calls to look at how forestry, land management and soft-engineered flood alleviation schemes can hold back water in the upper reaches of rivers, and to foster co-operation between landowners, professions, water companies and local and national government.

How to achieve this (and it is interesting that the RTPI is not one of the signatories to the letter) in the absence of either a national or regional planning framework? The closest mechanism we have currently is the duty to co-operate, but if, as is often demonstrated, local authorities cannot work together to plan for homes, how should they be expected to plan for flood plains? A national plan certainly would be revolutionary, but regional plans are not new. In fact we had them at the start of this parliament...

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