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Volume 406: debated on Tuesday 10 June 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps his Department is taking to ensure house buyers are aware of the risks involved with purchasing houses built on a flood plain. [117487]

Under the Government's proposals for home information packs, prospective buyers will be provided with key information about homes marketed for sale. Flood risk information is one of the items being considered for inclusion in the pack as part of the standard search arrangements. This proposal is set out in a consultation paper, "Contents of the Home Information Pack", published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on 31 March 2003.Prospective buyer; and their professional advisers can already investigate flood risk. The Environment Agency publishes Indicative Floodplain Maps. These are available on the Agency's website: in the section entitled "What's in your backyard". Prospective home buyers and their professional advisers can interrogate this site by post code to see the area in which a property is situated is at flood risk. More detailed information can be obtained from the local Environment Agency area office and from specialist commercial search companies. New homes should increasingly be located in accordance with the stronger planning guidance we issued in July 2001 in PPG25, "Development and Flood Risk", which sets out a sequential approach to the type of developments compatible with different levels of flood risk. To complement this new guidance, DTLR published, in February 2002, "Preparing for Floods". This sets out interim guidance for improving the flood resistance of all domestic and small business properties. It provides practical advice for existing owners whose properties are at risk of flooding and for those involved in constructing new properties or renovating old ones in flood risk areas. The information it contains is also of value to professionals advising purchasers on the flood resistant capabilities of properties within the mapped areas of flood risk.