Flood risk sinks town centre redevelopment

Flood risk concerns have led to dismissal of outline plans for a mixed-use redevelopment on a riverside site in a Dorset market town.

The proposal comprised ground-floor commercial space with 16 flats above. The appellant had submitted a flood risk assessment in view of the site’s flood zone 3a status, disaggregating the different uses for the purposes of the sequential test. The inspector noted that in mixed-use scenarios, PPG advises that the most vulnerable flood risk category – namely the residential element in this situation – should be applied to the whole scheme.

He accepted the appellant’s contention that no alternative sites had been found for the commercial element but found little detail to justify a claimed lack of alternative housing sites, given a lack of clarity on the search area used. He stated that the sequential test for housing purposes must be broadly based because national policy is premised on the imperative of directing vulnerable development such as housing away from areas at highest risk of flooding.

The inspector concluded that the sequential test had not been met, so it was unnecessary to consider the exception test. He also concluded that the development would not preserve or enhance a conservation area and would harm the settings of listed buildings. The limited public benefit of the new homes would not outweigh heritage and flood risk objections, he concluded.

Inspector: Philip Staddon; Written representations

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