Developers planning to build in flood risk areas could be more likely to face extra Community Infrastructure Levy charges, warn solicitors Coles Miller.
Stalemate in the national debate over who pays for anti-flood measures could prompt local authorities to take matters into their own hands - and pass some of the cost on to developers, it is feared.
House builders are rejecting UK government moves to make them create ponds to catch rainwater run-off at their developments. The row has rumbled on for four years.
At present the Flood Act 2010 forces developers to make provision for rainwater runoff so it can seep into the ground - rather than flowing into Britain’s overburdened drainage system.
But the house builders are loathe to sacrifice valuable land to ponds, channels and open space because it lowers the density of schemes and reduces their profits.
They prefer the idea of using underground tanks instead but the government has been told that natural drainage is cheaper than using pipes.
So far the result has been an impasse but it has now emerged that councils could bill the owners of new homes for maintenance schemes relating to flooding.
And Coles Miller Planning Consultant James Cain is concerned that some local authorities may take this a stage further and - with no national agreement in place - act unilaterally to make the developers pay as well.
“The most likely mechanism for this would be the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL),” said Mr Cain, a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
“There is deadlock at a national level over how to reduce the impact of flooding but in the meantime Britain has suffered its worst storms in 40 years.
“Authorities across the UK are facing a huge clean-up bill and there is already significant pressure on their budgets.
“Our concern is that - in the absence of a national agreement - the authorities might use the Community Infrastructure Levy as a means of mitigating the cost of flood prevention measures.
“The sooner the house builders and the government reach a full agreement the better. This climate change issue is not going to go away,” he added.
More developers are being forced to consider building on flood risk sites because of land shortages elsewhere. Coles Miller recommends taking specialist planning advice on:
- flood risk - is the area in Zone 1 (low probability), 2 (medium probability), 3a (high probability) or 3b (floodplain)?
- design - adding features that can mitigate the impact of flooding
- alternative sites - extra flood-related costs may make some small sites unviable.
Coles Miller’s planning consultants are assisting clients with a number of projects involving development sites that are either in or abutting flood risk areas.
They include a planning appeal relating to studio flats in Salisbury. The scheme - on land adjoining a flood risk area - involves siting the living space on the first floor, above the garages.
Dorset-based Coles Miller has five offices in Bournemouth, Poole, Broadstone, Charminster and Wimborne.
Its planning team helps clients to apply for planning permission, deal with objections and appeal against refusal.
Coles Miller can also assist with planning enforcement, Certificates of Lawful Use, legal agreements, feasibility studies and strategic site promotion.
For further details, please contact Coles Miller Solicitors’ Chartered Town Planning Consultant James Cain, 01202 293226.