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Fenland Council told to think again on flood risk

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The Environment Agency has told Fenland District Council that its flood risk assessment for houses and a care home by the River Nene, Wisbech, is not acceptable.

The council has submitted an application through its trading arm – Fenland Futures Ltd – to build up to 60 homes in the Nene Parade/Bedford Street/Chase Street area.

Also included is a 70-apartment care home and a 900 square metres commercial unit.

“We have reviewed the documents, as submitted, and are raising a holding objection due to the absence of an acceptable flood risk assessment (FRA),” says the Environment Agency (EA).

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It goes on to say it has set out its position in a letter to the council with “guidance as to how the applicant can overcome our objection”.

The EA says the current flood risk assessment (FRA) “does not comply with the requirements for site-specific flood risk assessments”.

“The FRA does not therefore adequately assess the flood risks posed by the development.

“In particular, the FRA fails to consider how people will be kept safe from the identified flood hazards.”

It wants Fenland Council to provide enough information relating to finished floor levels or drawings of floor plans/elevations.

The EA says that whilst the original submission acknowledges the residual flood risk from tidal breach and overtopping but has not defined the breach hazard and overtopping hazard by mapping depth bands on site.

The EA says it agrees “that there should be no ground floor sleeping across the site”.

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But the EA says it is insufficient to state finished floor levels will be set ‘by disabled access requirements based on surrounding levels’.

“All finished floor levels must be above the maximum breach depths for the 0.5% scenario (if 2 storey),” says the EA.

“It is not known whether the flood risk mitigation measures proposed to address flood risk for the lifetime of the development are adequate to make the development resilient to the expected flood depths arising from a breach in the defences during a flood that has a 1% fluvial / 0.5% tidal chance of occurring in any one year up to 2115.

“We request finished floor levels must be set 1m-1.6 (depth band) above ground level, with flood resilient construction to a height of 300mm above the predicted flood depth.

“For two-storey development, proposals must use the 0.5% 2115 depth scenario.

“For single storey development, proposals must use the 0.1% 2115 depth scenario.”

The EA says that to overcome their objection, the council’s agents should submit a revised FRA addressing the points they have raised.

“If this cannot be achieved, we are likely to maintain our objection,” says the EA.

“One of the key considerations to ensure that any new development is safe is whether adequate flood warnings would be available to people using the development.

“In all circumstances where warning and emergency response is fundamental to managing flood risk, we advise local planning authorities to formally consider the emergency planning and rescue implications of new development in making their decisions.”

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