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Planning Practice Guidance Flood Risk Guide (2023)

The Planning Practice Guidance flood risk and coastal change has been updated to include key changes such as:

    • The Planning Practice Guidance on flood risk and coastal change has been updated to include key changes such as:

    • Explicitly accounting for climate change and surface water flood risk in the ‘design flood’

    • Prioritizing avoidance approaches and passive techniques for managing flood risk

    • Considering the impact of a flood on essential services provided by development

    • Discouraging new culverting and building over existing culverting.

    • The likelihood of flood defence failure is no longer appropriate for planning, and the floodplain starting point for functional floodplains is now 3.3% AEP (1 in 30 storm event) with a non-residential development lifetime of 75 years as a starting point.

    • Additionally, the guidance provides a link to Defra FD2320 for methodology on calculating flood hazard to people.

Amendments to the Sequential Test

The updated planning practice guidance flood risk and coastal change planning practice provides clarity on when the Sequential Test needs to be applied and defines key terms used in the process. The guidance also emphasises the role of local planning authorities in managing flood risk and encourages more cross-boundary working to identify suitable areas for development. Note that the sequential tests depends on the flood risk vulnerability classificationand flood zone ‘compatibility and the

1. Clarity about when it needs to be applied – removed confusion about ‘minor’

The updated guidance provides clarity on when the Sequential Test needs to be applied to planning applications, removing any confusion around what constitutes a ‘minor’ development. This ensures that the Sequential Test is consistently applied to all development proposals that have the potential to increase flood risk.

2. Key terms defined (e.g. ‘reasonably available’, ‘wider sustainable development objectives’)

The updated guidance provides clear definitions for key terms used in the Sequential Test, such as ‘reasonably available’ and ‘wider sustainable development objectives’. This helps ensure that local planning authorities (LPAs) and developers consistently understand these terms and how they apply to flood risk management.

3. Clearer roles and responsibilities – emphasis on LPA to choose area of search and consider if test is passed

It places greater emphasis on LPAs to choose the area of search and consider if the Sequential Test is passed. This helps to ensure that LPAs are taking an active role in managing flood risk and that they are considering the suitability of development proposals in flood risk areas.

4. Encouragement for more cross-boundary working

It encourages more cross-boundary working between LPAs to identify suitable development areas at low risk of flooding. This helps to ensure that flood risk is managed on a regional level and that development is concentrated in areas that are most suitable for it.

5. Suggests approaches to improve certainty and efficiency, e.g. prepare guidance on areas of search and a register of ranked sites

Improvement in certainty and efficiency in applying the Sequential Test, such as preparing guidance on search areas and a register of ranked sites. This helps to ensure that LPAs and developers have access to the information they need to apply the Sequential Test in a consistent and efficient manner.

6. Clarity about when it is appropriate to move onto the Exception Test

The PP guidance provides clarity on when it is appropriate to move onto the Exception Test. This ensures that the Exception Test is only used in cases where the Sequential Test has been shown to be ineffective, and that LPAs and developers are actively managing flood risk in their decision-making processes.

7. Changes to the Exception test

The revised guidance includes changes to Table 2, which now displays flood zone incompatibility to help LPAs determine if an application passes or fails the Exception Test. The guidance also provides more information on key terms such as ‘wider sustainability benefits to the community’ and ‘reduce flood risk overall, where possible.’ The aim is to make it easier for LPAs and developers to understand when an exception is necessary and how to demonstrate that proposed development benefits the community and reduces flood risk.

Planning Practice Guidance: Overhauled Protocols for Handling Flood Risk and Coastal Change

The Integrated Approach and Risk elsewhere

The Integrated Approach encourages a catchment-based approach and emphasizes the need for stronger links with other strategies. The impact of development on flood risk elsewhere should be analysed, and compensatory floodplain storage should not be relied upon as a form of mitigation.

Integrated Approach

  • Encourages the adoption of a catchment-based approach
  • Refers to “What is a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment?” and “Who needs to be consulted when preparing plan policies?” in Planning and flood risk as sources of guidance
  • Emphasizes the need for stronger links with other strategies, such as water cycle studies and drainage and wastewater management plans
  • Refers to “What is a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment?” and “Who needs to be consulted when preparing plan policies?” in Planning and flood risk as sources of guidance for this aspect as well.

Impact of development on flood risk elsewhere

• The Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) should include an analysis of any potential increases in flood risk outside the development site.

• Cumulative impacts on flood risk elsewhere should also be taken into account and mitigated where possible.

• Developers should be aware of compensatory floodplain storage and how it can be used to mitigate flood risk.

• Stilts/voids should not be relied upon as a form of compensatory floodplain storage.

Safeguarding land & relocation of unsustainable development

The guidelines on safeguarding land and relocating unsustainable development have been enhanced and expanded to provide more detailed information

  • How to safeguard land for future flood risk management infrastructure, as outlined in ‘Taking flood risk into account in preparing plans’ under ‘How should land for future flood risk management infrastructure be safeguarded? (Para 011)’
  • Definition of unsustainable locations, described in ‘Taking flood risk into account in preparing plans’ under ‘What approach should be taken to making provision for the relocation of development and infrastructure? (Para 012)’
  • Guidance on controlling development in unsustainable locations, found in ‘Taking flood risk into account in preparing plans’ under ‘What approach should be taken to making provision for the relocation of development and infrastructure? (Para 012)’
  • Improved guidance on the role of planning in the relocation of unsustainable development, detailed in ‘Taking flood risk into account in preparing plans’ under ‘What approach should be taken to making provision for the relocation of development and infrastructure? (Para 012)’
  • The adaptation plans are now cited as a source of information on the land that is likely to need safeguarding, which can be found in ‘Taking flood risk into account in preparing plans’ under ‘How should land for future flood risk management infrastructure be safeguarded? (Para 011)’

Sustainable drainage systems

New rules require developers to meet SuDS definition and provide a ‘SuDS Strategy’ for planning applications, while considering benefits such as cooling, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity. Local policies should identify areas where certain SuDS types would offer notable benefits. Separate permits for SuDS may be necessary.

  • Developers must now meet the 4-pillars of the Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) definition and avoid below ground storage. If SuDS are not feasible, clear evidence is required to justify their exclusion. [See Para 055 and Para 056 in Sustainable drainage systems]
  • A ‘SuDS Strategy’ is a mandatory requirement for planning applications, including Outline, with a detailed checklist of information needed. [See Para 059 in Sustainable drainage systems]
  • SuDS now acknowledge a wider range of benefits including cooling, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity net gain. [See Para 055 in Sustainable drainage systems]
  • • Early consideration of SuDS is highly encouraged. [See Para 056 in Sustainable drainage systems]
  • Develop local policies to pinpoint the areas where certain SuDS types would offer the most notable benefits [see ‘What sort of sustainable drainage systems can be considered? (Para 056)’ in Sustainable drainage systems].
  • It is vital to confirm the need for a separate permit for SuDS [see ‘Are other permits needed for sustainable drainage systems? (Para 061)’ in Sustainable drainage systems].

Reduce the impact of flooding

To reduce the impact of flooding, access to natural flood management tools and support for river and coastal restoration projects are recommended.

  • A new section has been introduced, which provides access to our latest tools, maps, and research on natural flood management. [See ‘What is natural flood management and how can it reduce the causes and impacts of flooding? (Para 064)’ in Reducing the causes and impacts of flooding]
  • Support is provided for river restoration projects, such as culvert removal and other measures that help slow the flow of water. [See ‘What is natural flood management and how can it reduce the causes and impacts of flooding? (Para 064)’ in Reducing the causes and impacts of flooding]
  • Coastal management initiatives, including realignment, saltmarsh creation, and similar strategies, are encouraged. [See ‘What is natural flood management and how can it reduce the causes and impacts of flooding? (Para 064)’ in Reducing the causes and impacts of flooding]

The coastal development

Coastal development policies have been updated to include: more cautious CCMAs, increased flexibility for existing buildings, vulnerability assessments for proposed developments in CCMAs, and removal of permitted development rights in CCMAs.

  • Coastal Change Management Areas (CCMAs) are now designated with a more cautious approach. [Refer to ‘What are the considerations in defining Coastal Change Management Areas? (Para 072)’ in Planning and development in areas of coastal change]
  • Existing buildings and land-use are granted more flexibility to support the transition. [Refer to ‘What development will be appropriate in a Coastal Change Management Area? (Para 072)’ in Planning and development in areas of coastal change]
  • To ensure greater clarity, a ‘vulnerability assessment’ is now required for proposed developments in CCMAs. [Refer to ‘When will a vulnerability assessment be required to demonstrate whether development is appropriate in a coastal change management area? (Para 074)’ in Planning and development in areas of coastal change]

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Argemiro Rivera, <b>BEng(Hons) MSC CEng MICE MCIWEM C.WEM CEnv</b>
Argemiro Rivera, BEng(Hons) MSC CEng MICE MCIWEM C.WEM CEnv

Passion for Water, Flood Risk & Sustainability
I love to dig into complex flood risk and water engineering projects and deliver them. I focus on delivering reliable flood risk information to protect livelihoods and the environment.

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