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Housing: Floods

Volume 471: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many hectares of land were changed to residential use within flood risk areas in England in each year since 1997. (171567)

The Government's aim is to avoid inappropriate development in such areas. Flood risk must be taken into account at all stages of the planning process. Development that would not be safe in the higher flood risk areas should be directed to areas of lower risk wherever this is practicable. We have strengthened the system significantly—new planning rules introduced last year (PPS25) make clear that councils should not give the go ahead to new housing in areas where the Environment Agency advise against it. The new rules are already beginning to have an impact and it is vital that councils continue to work with the Environment Agency to ensure that new homes are safe from flooding and property sustainable for the future.

The total land area of England is approximately 13 million hectares. Around 10 per cent. of this is in an area of high flood risk, much of it within London and other existing urban areas. Of this high flood risk area, only around 2,500 hectares (0.2 per cent.) changed to residential use between 1997 and 2004 (the latest year for which information is available).

The following table gives the information requested for broken down by year. It relates to the period before the planning system was strengthened:

Area of residential land in high flood risk areas (hectares)1


















1. Area of newly residential land with more than zero dwellings. 2. 1999 estimates unavailable due to incomplete data Notes: 1. There is an inevitable time-lag between land use change occurring and it being recorded, therefore data are constantly being updated. 2. The data in the table above are based on records received from Ordnance Survey up to June 2007. Source: Land Use Change Statistics data (LUCS 22A, October 2007)

The definition of high flood risk areas used by Communities and Local Government are the high risk zone mapped by the Environment Agency as being at a probability of flooding, excluding the presence of flood defences, of at least one in one hundred each year for river flooding and at least one in two hundred for coastal flooding.