Property flood resilience (PFR) is often termed many different things – sometime by various organisations. This may be PLP (Property level protection) or PLR (Property level resilience), but all are focused on the same thing – installing measures on buildings to help the management of the impacts of flooding. We have information on the FloodGuidance website around the types of PFR measures, and standards for flood resilience to consider for these.
But who’s responsibility is it to decide whether these are needed? This depends whether we’re looking at new properties or existing properties.
One of the things that must be considered is where the new homes are being built and how we can ensure that these are being built sustainably with challenges (such as flooding) being managed as much as possible. There are of course considerations of flood risk within the planning process, and the considerations need to be highlighted for developments to go ahead. So, what are these?
The sequential test is designed to ensure that construction takes place in the lowest areas of flood risk. It looks for developments to be situated in a Flood Zone 1 (low risk) area ideally, and if Zone 1 areas are available, development should be located there instead of areas of medium or high risk. However, sometimes this isn’t possible and so a development may need to be located in Zone 2 or 3. If this is the case, and the development is to go ahead, the developer may need to conduct an Exception Test. This will include demonstrating that the sustainability benefits will outweigh the risks of flooding to the community. These all factor into the National Planning Policy Framework which seeks to ensure that new properties are in line with the government’s policies for housing and development. If you are interested in planning for flood risk, the Royal Town Planning Institute’s blog may be useful.
However, in the context of PFR, there are no requirements under current building regulations to install these measures even in high risk flood areas. There is however flexibility of local authorities to apply additional recommendations for new developments as a part of regional plans. A good example of this is the London Plan. This allows planning authorities to require additional constraints to be placed on a site showing significant levels of flood risk, or residual risk (e.g. potential failure of defended area), which could include PFR measures.
While there are procedures in place for flood risk in new developments, what about existing buildings? Well, for existing properties, the responsibility normally sits with the owner of the property. There may be local authority (LA) schemes that can help to provide property flood resilience, and this may determine who is responsible for managing or operating the measures installed, but generally the property owner will be in charge of commissioning this.
You may wish to choose to have a flood hazard assessment (sometimes termed a flood risk assessment) of your property, this will review where flooding may occur near to the property site and therefore where the flood risk may come from. A thorough hazards assessment will provide information on the likely frequency, depths, duration, and potentially velocities of flooding at the site.
If a significant risk is identified, you may wish to consider the risk of damage to the building. This may
be done through a property survey. This survey will highlight areas that may be more vulnerable to flooding and should also propose recommendations of how to improve the resilience of the building and help to manage flood risk better in the future.
Code of Practice
CIRIA are currently developing a voluntary Code of Practice (CoP) which will highlight good practice and improve confidence in property flood resilience (PFR) measures. This CoP has also received the commitment of support from the government in Section 5(iii) of the 25-Year Environment Plan. This CoP has a fantastic opportunity to help shape the world of PFR and improve the awareness of measures that can be implemented.
There are different approaches (depending on whether buildings are new builds or existing) as to what is exactly required for PFR. While an estimated 1 in 6 homes in the UK are at risk of flooding, there is still a low awareness level of what the scope of PFR measures include and how these should be installed on properties. It is clear however, that continued focus on PFR as a solution to flood risk is ongoing through the Government’s commitment to support this CoP.
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