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Posted 26 April 2018
by Simon Catterall

Risk of Flooding: Failure to Comply With National Policy Results in Planning Refusal

Road which has been flooded.

Paragraphs 100 to 102 of the National Planning Policy Framework direct development away from areas at highest risk of flooding (flood zones 2 and 3). Prior to planning permission being granted, the development has to pass a “Sequential Test”, demonstrating that there are no reasonably available alternative sites with a lower probability of flooding. Two recent planning appeals have highlighted the importance of satisfying the test.

In the first case in Stockton-on-Tees, the appeal site lay partly within flood zone 2. The developers had produced a flood risk assessment that demonstrated a reduced risk of flooding and the Environment Agency withdrew its objection. However, the appeal inspector found no evidence that alternative sites had been considered. Notwithstanding the absence of an objection from the Environment Agency or the local planning authority on this issue, the Inspector considered that the proposal did not meet the requirements of national guidance and refused planning permission.

In the second case, two houses proposed within the flood plain of a Dorset river were designed to be sited within a dry dock enabling them to float with any floodwater under the guidance of piers. The Environment Agency had accepted that the development could be made safe from flooding and withdrew its objection. The developer had produced a sequential test but in finding that there were no alternative sites, distinguished between normal dwellings and the proposed ‘water compatible dwellings’. The Inspector, in refusing planning permission, rejected this argument and preferred the planning authority’s evidence that alternative (conventional) housing sites did exist with a lower risk of flooding.

Both cases demonstrate the importance of satisfying the Sequential Test even where there are no technical flood related objections to the development.

If you require any advice or guidance regarding a matter similar to this, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team of planning solicitors.

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About the author

Simon Catterall


Solicitor for the planning team