Advice for developers planning to build in a flood plain

Guidance for local planning authorities and decision takers (for example local communitiies, elected members, statutory consultees for planning issues) both in drawing up the Local Plan for development areas and making decisions about planning applications is given in the National Planning Policy Framework (pdf, 870 KB) and the Technical guidance to the National Planning Policy Framework (pdf, 400 KB).  Developers planning to build in a flood plain should be familiar with the framework and accompanying guidance.

Role of the Suffolk Resilience Forum (SRF) in relation to developments in flood plains

The Technical Guidance to the National Planning Policy Framework, para 9, suggests that developers should take advice from the emergency services when preparing the evacuation plan as part of the Flood Risk Assessment for developments proposed in flood plains. In Suffolk, the emergency services and local authority have agreed to look collectively at the proposed evacuation plan when the planning application is submitted.

What the Suffolk Resilience Forum (SRF) will comment on

The Suffolk Resilience Forum (SRF) will only look at documentation produced to meet the planning requirements where a development is subjected to the exception test (see SRF Exception test process).  This is determined using the Environment Agency (EA) flood maps or by the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment for the area and by considering the intended use against the recommendations given in Table 3 (below) of the Technical Guidance to the National Planning Policy Framework (pdf, 400 KB).

Table 3: Flood risk vulnerability and flood zone 'compatibility'

Flood risk vulnerability classification (see table 2)

Essential infrastructure

Water compatible

Highly vulnerable

More vulnerable

Less vulnerable

Flood zone (see table 1)

Zone 1

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Zone 2

Y

Y

Exception Test required

Y

Y

Zone 3a

Exception Test required

Y

N

Exception Test required

Y

Zone 3b functional floodplain

Exception Test required

Y

N

N

N

Key: Y - Development is appropriate.  N - Development should not be permitted. 

As part of the documentation there is a requirement to produce a Flood Emergency Plan (FEP), guidance on what should be found in the plan can be found by clicking HERE.

In order to be able to comment on the Flood Emergency Plan, the SRF will also need the Flood Risk Assessment documentation produced by the developer.

Key requirements for consideration in the development design taken from the National Planning Policy Framework:

  1. Evacuation for foreseeable flooding risks - includes safe access and raised egress routes for voluntary and free movement of people
  2. Evacuation - where Flood Warnings have been issued by the EA for more severe flood events,  provides safe evacuation routes to allow timely unaided evacuation of people
  3. Evacuation - provides an evacuation plan for use by the owners of buildings with transient occupants
  4. Evacuation - allows for the continued viability of access and evacuation routes for the lifetime of the development
  5. Shelter on site - provides safe refuges for no-notice flood events
  6. Shelter on site - provides safe access routes for emergency services to safe refuge locations to allow rescue of people who are unable to evacuate themselves.
  7. Signage - provides clear signage to highlight risk of flooding, and evacuation routes
  8. Good design – demonstrating compliance with ’Improving the flood performance of new buildings: flood resilient construction’ (available at http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/improvingflood) (external website)
  9. Critical infrastructure – includes appropriate access to critical infrastructure (eg fire hydrants) likely to be required by local responders in an emergency situation.
The Suffolk Resilience Forum will not advise developers on measures to take for individual sites.

Specific guidance for developers available from some statuatory agencies

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service advice can be found on their web page - Proposed developments in flood zones.(external website)

Environment Agency - Flood Risk Standing Advice for England (external website)

Developments in areas susceptable to flooding in Ipswich - additional information is available the Ipswich Borough Council  - Development and Flood Risk Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)