5k+ homes built in high-risk flood areas this year, find LV= GI and Localis

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More than 5,000 new homes in areas at the highest risk of flooding have been approved to be built in England in 2021 alone, according to new research from LV= General Insurance (GI) and independent think tank Localis.

The research, commissioned by LV= GI and carried out by Localis ahead of Flood Action Week, included detailed analysis of more than 16,000 planning applications and identified the number of granted planning permissions to highlight the significant issue of building on flood-risk land.

Almost 200 planning permissions have been granted for 5,283 new homes in the highest-risk local authorities in the country, with the majority (4,255) in areas pre-identified as highly likely to flood, according to the resulting report, which includes policy recommendations designed to tackle the issue.

The most affected regions are Yorkshire and The Humber and the East Midlands, with nearly half of these homes situated on a major new development on a floodplain in North Lincolnshire

In the top five local authorities at risk of flooding—South Holland, Boston, Fenland, Runnymede, and King’s Lynn and West Norfolk—a third (31%) of approved planning permissions for new residential buildings on floodplains didn’t come with a flood risk assessment, a review of a development in its planning stage to assess the risk of flooding.

The report found that nearly 20% of all properties across England (5.2 million) are at risk of flooding, with 2.4 million properties on floodplains. 

Worryingly, according to LV= GI, in the last decade floodplain development has increased by 12%, and with a growing population and the overwhelming need for new homes, England is likely to see properties built in areas at high risk of flooding almost double—an increase from 2.4 million to 4.6 million—over the next 50 years.

This situation emerges at a time when the average cost of repairing a flood-damaged home is approximately £32,000, according to LV= GI, with the most common cause of flood damage this year due to drains unable to cope with the amount of surface water.

There are also properties not protected by the public-private reinsurer Flood Re due to being built from 2009 onwards, as well as a lack of flood risk skills and expertise at local authorities in charge of making planning decisions, at a time when councils are declaring climate emergencies.

Martin Milliner, claims director at LV= GI, commented: “Climate change will increase the UK’s exposure to weather-related hazards such as flooding, and it’s vital we prepare for this.”

Milliner continued: “Flooding is an extremely traumatic event which has a devasting impact on a person’s life, both physically and mentally. This research highlights a concerning amount of current and future development in high flood risk areas. To tackle this, we need to come together and develop a holistic approach to flooding for the long term, with property developers, insurers and Government—both nationally and locally—tackling the issue of building on floodplains.”

Jonathan Werran, chief executive at Localis, added: “There is a clear need to reset government policy and regulation to prevent an otherwise unavoidable 50% uptick in the numbers of houses being built on floodplains over the next half century.”

“At the same time, with climate change another unavoidable reality, we need to strengthen communities to become resilient in adapting to, living with and responding to flood pressures.”

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Mark Dugdale is the editor of Claims Media. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached via mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk