When is it required?
- Development within Flood Zones 1 where site is 1 hectare or more in size.
- All new development (including minor developments and changes of use) in Flood Zones 2 and 3.
- All new development In Flood Zone 1 where there are critical drainage problems as notified to the Local Planning Authority by the Environment Agency.
- New development and changes of use to more vulnerable use in terms of flood risk.
What is this?
A Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) examines the extent to which a development within a Flood Zone is at risk from all sources of flooding, and demonstrates how flood risk will be managed, taking climate change into account. FRAs also consider opportunities at reducing the probability of flooding, the design of sustainable drainage systems and the provisions for safe access to and from areas at risk of flooding.
Why is this required?
NPPF Paragraphs 155 – 165 discusses planning and flood risk. Paragraph 160 explicitly refers to strategic or site specific FRAs and is further supported by paragraph 163 and footnote 50. You can view the Environment Agency’s Flood Map for planning and further guidance on FRAs and what they should assess and include. There is also a useful checklist with the Planning Practice Guidance which provides more detail on FRAs - Flood risk assessment checklist. Table 1 of the Planning Practice Guidance goes into further details regarding Flood Zones.
Likewise the Lead Local Flood Authority (Staffordshire County Council can advise on suitable drainage solutions.
Further Guidance and Advice
A Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) must demonstrate:
- whether any proposed development is likely to be affected by current or future flooding from any source including all watercourses, ditches, culverts, surface water, sewers, groundwater and where appropriate artificial sources such as canals and reservoirs;
- that the development is safe and where possible reduces flood risk overall;
- whether it will increase flood risk elsewhere; and
- the measures proposed to deal with these effects and risks.
- designs which reduce flood risk to the development and elsewhere, by incorporating sustainable drainage systems and where necessary, flood resilience measures; and identifying opportunities to reduce flood risk, enhance biodiversity and amenity, protect the historic environment and seek collective solutions to managing flood risk.
- Sequential and Exception tests may be required for all development in Flood Zones 2 and 3 other than minor development and changes of use.
- Householder and extensions and minor applications up to 250m2
For householder and minor extensions in Flood zones 2 and 3, please see the minor extensions standing advice section.
The Sequential Test should ascertain whether there is any other land available for such a development which lies at a lower risk of flooding. This should be undertaken in conjunction with the Local Planning Authority and be based upon information presented within the Council’s Strategic Flood Risk Assessment.
This work should be carried out as soon as possible in the development process, ideally prior to the commissioning of a detailed FRA in order to ascertain whether the principle of development in this location is acceptable.
The Exception Test, as set out in paragraph 160 of the Framework, is a method to demonstrate and help ensure that flood risk to people and property will be managed satisfactorily, while allowing necessary development to go ahead in situations where suitable sites at lower risk of flooding are not available. Essentially, the 2 parts to the test require proposed development to show that it will provide wider sustainability benefits to the community that outweigh flood risk, and that it will be safe for its lifetime, without increasing flood risk elsewhere and where possible reduce flood risk overall.
For individual developments on sites allocated in development plans through the Sequential Test, applicants need not apply the site-specific Sequential Test.
For further advice on when Flood Risk Assessments will be required and the details required in specific circumstances please have regard to the Environment Agency’s Standing Advice and the Lead Local Flood Authority guidance for local flood risk issues.
Developers should contact the Environment Agency for pre-application advice when development within the floodplain or within 8m of a Main River. The Environmental Agency can support your application by provision of advice regarding issues to be considered for each site, and information that may be available for use within your FRA. More detailed review or reports and plans may be subject to a fee. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
If you are unsure whether your site is likely to be affected by flooding please see the Environment Agency - Flood maps.
The National Planning Policy Framework and accompanying Planning Practice Guidance provide comprehensive guidance for applicants in relation to the undertaking of flood risk assessments and the responsibilities for controlling development.