‘Housing plans with flood risk approved’

DEVASTATION: Parts of Leeds were left submerged after the Boxing Day floods last winter.
DEVASTATION: Parts of Leeds were left submerged after the Boxing Day floods last winter.
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Hundreds of new homes across the country were given the green light in the last five years despite official warnings they will be at risk of flooding, new figures suggest.

Figures from the Environment Agency (EA) show that more than 1,200 residential properties have been granted planning permission nationally in the time period against the advice of the organisation.

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The EA’s advice is followed by local planning authorities for the overwhelming majority of houses – but the number of homes being built despite flood concerns may be higher than the figures show as the EA lodges an initial objection on hundreds of planning applications every year, but is not informed of the final decision.

The number of homes where the organisation was informed – and its advice overruled – was 124 in 2011/2012, jumping up to 508 in 2012/2013. The figure fell to 230 in 2013/2014, and to 183 for the past two years. It was not stated how many, if any, of these homes were in Leeds.

Details of initial objections to schemes suggest some developers are not fully taking flood risk into account when drawing up plans, the EA says.

Martin Tett, Local Government Association environment spokesman, said: “Local authorities throw out planning applications which are reckless and irresponsible. Councils are generally opposed to building property on floodplains and over 98 per cent of the 77,125 new homes in 2014/ 15 had planning outcomes in line with Environment Agency advice.”

A survey by the LGA shows that after the winter storms, 298 homes and 375 businesses were affected by floods in Leeds. It is unknown how many were on a floodplain.

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