Few are likely to forget the conveyor belt of storms that battered the UK during the winter 2013/2014 and which left the Somerset Levels underwater for weeks. Nor will many more forget the winter of 2015/2016, the wettest on record in some parts of the UK and one of the warmest on record for England and Wales. While thousands in communities across the UK struggled to cope with their homes and livelihoods being damaged by water, the extreme weather conditions have given rise to criticism about the lack of defence communities have against floods.
While funding for flood defences is an issue that is largely out of the average individual’s hands, there is now much more guidance on what to do if you live in a flood zone. There’s practical advice from sites like the British Red Cross which give guidance as to what to do before, during and after floods, from sandbagging your toilet to assembling an essential emergency survival kit, and what to do if you need to evacuate your home. Government sites provide links to useful areas where you can check your flood risk over the coming days. The Environmental Agency superimposes flood-risk areas over Ordnance Survey maps on its website to indicate which homes are most likely to be at risk of flood.
Flood Risk Assessment
If you’re already living in a flood zone and were thinking of making alterations and improvements to your home, you would first need to contact your planning applications office to see whether your application would need to include a flood-risk assessment. This may need to be carried out by a flood-risk assessment specialist, although in some circumstances you might be able to carry this out yourself. You would need various maps, such as a flood map showing flood zones, defences and areas the areas that benefit from the flood defences. You may also need a basic and/or a detailed flood-risk assessment map, which include everything from flood zones to the extent of historical flooding events. Depending on the size and purpose of your development, you may need more documentation besides.
Fortunately, there are specialists on hand who can pull together all this information, from the required Ordnance Survey maps with the correct annotations and scale to maps containing EA flood zones and any other required flood-risk assessment documentation that is needed. Once compiled, they are presented in the correct format, giving your planning application the best chance of being reviewed and approved.
Preparing a planning application can be a daunting task on its own, without the additional requirements for proposed developments in flood-risk areas. They are often rejected for reasons such as the map being in the wrong scale or for missing a document altogether.
The process is costly, both in time and money, especially where flood-risk assessment may be involved, so it’s important to ensure that your planning application is accepted for consideration first time. A vital part of this is to include all of the required maps in the correct format in your application.