18 October 2011 Government planning reforms must not lead to unsaleable, uninsurable and uninhabitable properties warns the ABI. Government plans to reform the planning process must not lead to developments being built in flood risk areas, so making flood insurance more expensive or even unobtainable the ABI warned today.
Around 1 in 6 properties – 5 million homes and 185,000 businesses – in England are currently at risk of flooding, and the ABI is concerned that proposals to give local planning authorities more powers in the planning process will lead to a rise in developments being built in flood risk areas.
To reduce the risk, the ABI says that the Government’s reforms must include requirements for:
· The regular publication by local planning authorities of any planning applications given against the advice of the Environment Agency (EA). Despite the current requirement that the EA reports on all planning applications made against their advice on the grounds of flooding, local planning authorities do not advise the EA of many of their planning decisions.
Water companies to be statutory consultees on all development applications in flood risk areas in order to confirm the capacity of their systems to adequately drain the proposed development.
Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Health, said:
“We understand the Government’s desire for sustainable developments, and that the Government recognise that flooding is an important consideration in the planning process. The continued availability of flood insurance is vital if the Government’s vision of more sustainable communities is to become reality.
“However, we are not convinced that the current proposals for planning reform are robust enough to prevent developments in flood risk areas. The drive towards giving local communities more say about what is built and where must include safeguards to ensure that developments are not built in flood risk areas, so we can avoid a nightmare scenario of unsaleable uninsurable, and uninhabitable properties”