The first proposal entailed converting most of the pub to two dwellings and a new home on part of the site, following partial demolition. The second was for two new dwellings. The site was some 250 metres from a tidal stretch of river identified by the Environment Agency as being within flood zone 3a. The council’s strategic flood risk pointed to a high probability of tidal flooding from the North Sea.
The agency confirmed that the main risk of flooding was from a breach or over topping of tidal flood defences. In such an event, its flood hazard maps indicated a 1-in-200 likelihood of the depth of water being two metres or more in the vicinity of the site. It advised that this represented a threat to lives and property, including emergency services.
It was not clear to the inspector that the proposed homes could not be accommodated in an area with a lower probability of flooding. However, he acknowledged that the property was a redundant brownfield site in the town’s central core, where there was a need for redevelopment and regeneration to maintain vitality and community wellbeing. As such, he recognised that the proposals could offer both regeneration and sustainability benefits. He therefore considered the proposals against an exception test to establish whether, as designed, they would be safe from flooding.
The appellant proposed to raise ground floors 150mm above site level for the new dwellings. Further mitigation measures included raising ground floor levels to 400mm above site level, 600mm demountable flood defences to window and door openings and "safe havens" at first floor level to allow occupants to escape in the event of flooding above a metre in depth. In the inspector’s view, these measures would not provide sufficient protection to habitable ground floor accommodation.
Inspector: Mike Hayden; Written representations