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Agenda item

Consideration of a petition requesting that the Council Reduce flooding, examine flood risk in detail before allocating more development sites

To consider the details of a petition and request that Officers ensure the issues raised within it are considered as part of the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment prepared in connection with the review of the Joint Core Strategy which will inform the identification of strategic site allocations.

Minutes:

20.1           The Mayor welcomed the representative of the petitioner to present to the Council.  

20.2           The representative explained that the petition was put together in the communities and collected the required number of signatures to force a Council debate almost immediately which was impressive during lockdown. He knew the Council was well aware of the flooding specifics and strength of feeling in the community but the petition reflected concerns the community had regarding shortfalls due to the limitations of the Environment Agency, the impact of climate change and the lack of cohesive protections in the Inspector’s modified JCS piecemeal approach and there was now flooding to dwellings which had not flooded in 2007. The representative felt the Council not only owed a duty of care to residents but also to those who may be affected in the future if the Council did nothing or put off doing something. By adopting the petition, and agreeing to commission a cumulative food risk assessment, it not only supported affected residents but also demonstrated the Council’s commitment to providing protection to all residents in the Borough. Paragraph 156 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) stated that “strategic policies should be informed by a strategic flood risk assessment and should manage flood risk from all sources” and government guidance on “how to prepare a strategic flood risk assessment” stated that Councils may need to review a strategic flood risk assessment when there were changes to the predicted impacts of climate change on flood risk, the forecasts had changed or there were changes to the Local Plan, spatial development strategy or relevant local development documents. In addition, even at the lowest level 1 strategic flood risk assessment should also include a supporting report with information on the cumulative impacts of development, expected effects of climate change, opportunities to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding and recommendations on how to address flood risk in development; it also stated that “you may need to commission new or updated modelling if climate change allowance (predicted effects of climate) in the model was not in line with current climate change allowances” and those were now recognised as higher than those at the time of the original JCS. JCS policy INF2 stated that “development proposals must avoid areas at risk of flooding, in accordance with a risk-based sequential approach. Proposals must not increase the level of risk to the safety of occupiers of a site, the local community or the wider environment either on the site or elsewhere. For sites of strategic scale, the cumulative impact of the proposed development on flood risk in relation to existing settlements, communities or allocated sites must be assessed and effectively mitigated”. The petition raised points that would support the Council in achieving that and should contribute towards alleviating some of the problems currently being seen. One example was the Innsworth A40 gateway project where a watercourse was blocked during construction and was working with a lack of drainage consent and monitoring of conditions; that work had been highlighted in the Environment Agency guidance. Addressing the action called for by the petition would provide the Council with an evidence base that could be used in the determination/conditions for specific sites. He felt this was especially important for a Council that had declared a climate emergency and should be leading by example. The petition highlighted the Council’s commitment to take flood risk to a higher level ensuring it raised the bar in that critical area and was something the Council could not afford not to do and he hoped Members could support the petition.

20.3           The Head of Development Services was invited to present the Officer report to the Council. She explained that, as required by the NPPF, the Council would be undertaking strategic flood risk assessments when determining strategic sites to be allocated and this would be done as part of the JCS review. This was to be produced in accordance with government guidance and involved working with key agencies taking climate change into account. This meant the Council would be undertaking the work requested by the petition. The strategic flood risk assessment would be undertaken by specialist consultants so, whilst Officers were not clear which maps the Environment Agency used, they would be involved as a key body in any flood risk work. A number of Members expressed the view that the Environment Agency maps were not accurate and in 2007 there were some areas flooded which were still not shown on the flood maps.

20.4              A Member proposed, and it was seconded, that the Council thank the petitioners for bringing the matters to its attention. The identification of strategic site allocations would be informed by a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, prepared as part of the review of the Joint Core Strategy, and Officers would be requested to ensure the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment included a detailed pluvial and fluvial flood risk assessment, to include cumulative impacts, climate change, other influencing factors and all development completed, planned or projected (including major infrastructure projects) since 2014 and that it is commissioned prior to allocating any new sites; consult relevant agencies and Parish Councils to give them an opportunity to present their local evidence for consideration as part of the work carried out in respect of the Flood Risk Assessment referred to above; and consider what mechanisms were available to enable flood mitigation requirements to be imposed during the construction phase of development. The seconder was pleased that the proposal was covering all types of flooding, including pluvial and fluvial, as he felt this was very important. Another Member noted that flooding in homes was something that really needed to be looked at in a different way as reference to a one in 100 year or one in 30 year flood event etc. meant nothing to most people; however, the statistic that every property had a 63% chance of flooding was very stark.

20.5              Referring to his support of the motion proposed, a Member felt there was a real problem with development making flooding worse in some areas and developers needed to be stopped so speculative development was no longer taking place in areas which were unsuitable and he felt the Council needed to take an urgent look at its policies to try and stop those issues. Another Member agreed and felt mistakes from the past must be learned from ensuring that good sites were not stopped from being developed in favour of ‘damper’ areas. It was suggested that local residents and Members had a lot of helpful knowledge about where places flooded and where they did not and this should be used to help inform development areas. In response, the Head of Development Services explained that the Council would have to undertake a strategic flood risk assessment as one of the key pieces of evidence for site allocations which would have to be submitted as part of the examination. In terms of specific issues regarding flooding, those were looked at by the Climate Change and Flood Risk Management Group with the strategic flood risk assessments being addressed formally and informally through the various Working Groups and Committees of the Council.

20.6              Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That the Council thanks the petitioners for bringing the matters                          to its attention. The identification of strategic site allocations                                    would be informed by a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment,                                                 prepared as part of the review of the Joint Core Strategy and                                    Officers would be requested to:

a.      ensure that the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment included a detailed pluvial and fluvial flood risk assessment, to include cumulative impacts, climate change, other influencing factors and all development completed, planned or projected (including major infrastructure projects) since 2014 and that it is commissioned prior to allocating any new sites;

b.      consult relevant agencies and Parish Councils to give them an opportunity to present their local evidence for consideration as part of the work carried out in respect of the Flood Risk Assessment referred to in a. above; and

c.      consider what mechanisms were available to enable flood mitigation requirements to be imposed during the construction phase of development.

Supporting documents: