Councils reject claims of poor planning over floodplains

Bicester Advertiser: A car stuck in the water at the bottom of Hillview Road in West Oxford in last month’s flooding A car stuck in the water at the bottom of Hillview Road in West Oxford in last month’s flooding

OXFORDSHIRE’S planning bodies have shrugged off claims they are putting thousands of homes across the county at risk by building on floodplains.

Scenes echoing 2007’s damaging downpours played out last month across the county as riverbanks burst, leading critics to point at badly planned housing developments.

The deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council Rodney Rose, right, told the Oxford Mail: “District councils with planning committees need to look long and hard about building on or near flood plains. They really do have to think about what they are doing and make sure they are looking into sustainable drainage.

“That is critical. For major plots they need to be thinking about what will happen if they concrete over flood plains.”

His calls were backed by former county council emergency planner John Kelly who said: “Flooding will never be solved with the poor planning decisions of concrete wastelands in the past such as those off the Botley Road.

“We are however, likely to see a displacement of the Woodeaton/Earlsfield floods, when the new Barton extension is completed.”

Councils have rebuffed the criticism.

West Oxfordshire District Council planning portfolio holder Warwick Robinson said potential risks were always identified well beforehand.

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He said: “Rodney is merely emphasising what are already our policies and I always welcome his positive imput into WODC’s plans. Liason with OCC is a key part of our operation.

“You will find that full consideration of flood risk on any site scheduled for development is a key policy within the Local Plan.”

Michael Gibbard, Cherwell District Council cabinet member for planning said: “I can assure Rodney Rose that any planning applications determined by Cherwell District Council have the benefit of full consultation with responsible authorities, including the Environment Agency and Oxfordshire County Council.

“Developers submitting planning applications in or near a perceived flood plain are required to produce a site Flood Risk Assessment (FRA). As the planning authority, we are obliged to consult with the Environment Agency on the adequacy of the assessment and of any preventative measures that might be proposed.

“The county council is also consulted on these sustainability measures.”

The South Oxfordshire County Council portfolio holder Angie Paterson did not respond. However, a spokesman for the group, Andy Roberts said it only allowed development in areas at risk of flooding where mitigation proposals were in place.

He added that developers were also required to demonstrate surface water management and the Environment Agency and county council were consulted on this.

Oxford City Council said it was the only Oxfordshire planning authority of the four with an adopted Core Strategy housing plan which meant proposals would be binned unless they could prove the drainage systems would work.

Comments (5)

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12:43pm Wed 19 Dec 12

parvinder msvarency says...

With another 4 million people living here since the last census what are the councils over the country supposed to do to house all these people? That is another 4 cities the size of Birmingham. Or frighteningly 26 cities the size of Oxford that needed to be built. But what about the increase by the time of the 2021 census?
With another 4 million people living here since the last census what are the councils over the country supposed to do to house all these people? That is another 4 cities the size of Birmingham. Or frighteningly 26 cities the size of Oxford that needed to be built. But what about the increase by the time of the 2021 census? parvinder msvarency

1:44pm Wed 19 Dec 12

David Condon says...

parvinder msvarency wrote:
With another 4 million people living here since the last census what are the councils over the country supposed to do to house all these people? That is another 4 cities the size of Birmingham. Or frighteningly 26 cities the size of Oxford that needed to be built. But what about the increase by the time of the 2021 census?
The deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council Rodney Rose, right, told the Oxford Mail: “District councils with planning committees need to look long and hard about building on or near flood plains. They really do have to think about what they are doing and make sure they are looking into sustainable drainage.
“That is critical. For major plots they need to be thinking about what will happen if they concrete over flood plains.”
...
This is the same person who was fiercely pushing for the building of the Cogges Link Road on the Windrush floodplain here in Witney!
...
Words fail me!

David Condon, WitneyCPRE/WitneyFir
st
[quote][p][bold]parvinder msvarency[/bold] wrote: With another 4 million people living here since the last census what are the councils over the country supposed to do to house all these people? That is another 4 cities the size of Birmingham. Or frighteningly 26 cities the size of Oxford that needed to be built. But what about the increase by the time of the 2021 census?[/p][/quote]The deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council Rodney Rose, right, told the Oxford Mail: “District councils with planning committees need to look long and hard about building on or near flood plains. They really do have to think about what they are doing and make sure they are looking into sustainable drainage. “That is critical. For major plots they need to be thinking about what will happen if they concrete over flood plains.” ... This is the same person who was fiercely pushing for the building of the Cogges Link Road on the Windrush floodplain here in Witney! ... Words fail me! David Condon, WitneyCPRE/WitneyFir st David Condon

4:31pm Wed 19 Dec 12

David Condon says...

Apologies - the previous writers boxed quote in my comment should not be there!

David
Apologies - the previous writers boxed quote in my comment should not be there! David David Condon

6:26pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Myron Blatz says...

For donkeys years now, local and County authorities have waived previous restriction on planning on or near rivers, water courses and flood plains, to satiate the ever-growing demand for land to build upon - and with little or no serious consideration given to land saturation or the knock-on effects of covering more and more agricultural land with 'concrete jungles' - whether for domestic housing, or business/commerce. This is especially problematic in the Oxford Clay Vale, which is highly prone to flooding, and where the clay sub-structure doesn't enable flood and rainwater to soak away. Planning authorities know this, and it's no use them blaming the weather, because historically people build near rivers and streams because of the likelyhood of floods - and certainly never on water meadows (there's a clue in the name) or low-lying land. As for areas of towns and villages which have rarely been at risk from flooding until recently? Posibly due to over-building in the area over several decades, combined with more building a few miles away, and all stopping water escaping into the ground, or backing-up. Maybe 'Riverside Cottage' in that dez-rez exlusive rural development of 2000 'architect-designed homes with views of the river' might not seem so attractive if the postal address was Little Snobs-under-Thames?
For donkeys years now, local and County authorities have waived previous restriction on planning on or near rivers, water courses and flood plains, to satiate the ever-growing demand for land to build upon - and with little or no serious consideration given to land saturation or the knock-on effects of covering more and more agricultural land with 'concrete jungles' - whether for domestic housing, or business/commerce. This is especially problematic in the Oxford Clay Vale, which is highly prone to flooding, and where the clay sub-structure doesn't enable flood and rainwater to soak away. Planning authorities know this, and it's no use them blaming the weather, because historically people build near rivers and streams because of the likelyhood of floods - and certainly never on water meadows (there's a clue in the name) or low-lying land. As for areas of towns and villages which have rarely been at risk from flooding until recently? Posibly due to over-building in the area over several decades, combined with more building a few miles away, and all stopping water escaping into the ground, or backing-up. Maybe 'Riverside Cottage' in that dez-rez exlusive rural development of 2000 'architect-designed homes with views of the river' might not seem so attractive if the postal address was Little Snobs-under-Thames? Myron Blatz

4:40pm Thu 20 Dec 12

WestOxBill says...

One has to wonder if Oxfordshire's planning bodies would reject claims that the earth is round, or that the earth goes around the sun, if it let them build houses in silly places. I drive past a new development in East Eynsham every day that has an interesting overlap with the light and dark blue bits of the Environment Agency flood maps. Can Warwick Robinson read maps and does he have even the most basic grasp of what they mean? (Arizona had several "100" year floods during the 1970s.... ) In recent memory part of the new development at Millers Mews flooded and several other new parts of Witney are at risk. Even if some mitigation has been attempted, it will only succeed in displacing water to another vulnerable zone. It's not enough to identify risks and fill out a bunch of forms that allows you to pretend something has been done - the developments should simply not be allowed. The householders on these sites should hold the councillors who allowed the development legally responsible.
One has to wonder if Oxfordshire's planning bodies would reject claims that the earth is round, or that the earth goes around the sun, if it let them build houses in silly places. I drive past a new development in East Eynsham every day that has an interesting overlap with the light and dark blue bits of the Environment Agency flood maps. Can Warwick Robinson read maps and does he have even the most basic grasp of what they mean? (Arizona had several "100" year floods during the 1970s.... ) In recent memory part of the new development at Millers Mews flooded and several other new parts of Witney are at risk. Even if some mitigation has been attempted, it will only succeed in displacing water to another vulnerable zone. It's not enough to identify risks and fill out a bunch of forms that allows you to pretend something has been done - the developments should simply not be allowed. The householders on these sites should hold the councillors who allowed the development legally responsible. WestOxBill

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