DC Casebook: Housing: New build - Flood risk tests met at apartments site

A development of 12 apartments in the flood plain of a river in West Sussex has been allowed after an inspector concluded that it complies with national advice on flood risk.

The site lay in an area defined by the Environment Agency as having a high probability of flooding, obliging the appellants to pass the sequential and exception tests in PPS25. The council accepted that the first test had been met because no other suitable land for housing was available in the area. However, it claimed that the exception test had not been met because the scheme did not deliver wider sustainability benefits and was unsafe.

The inspector observed that the appellants had only recently purchased the site, which had received little maintenance. He noted that the river wall bordering the land was in poor condition and the scheme would enable it to be repaired, thereby contributing to improved flood defences. In the event that the river overtopped the wall, he was told that the site would flood to a depth of around 1m for around two hours.

He accepted that there would be no safe escape route from the site during such periods. However, he reasoned that warnings and evacuation plans could be put in place to ensure that residents moved their cars to higher ground and conditions could be imposed to ensure that utility services were not disrupted. He concluded that the development of the site would not pose a safety threat to future occupiers.

DCS Number 100-058-442

Inspector Kenneth Barton; Hearing.

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