Statement on the Local Plan and flood risk

Following last week’s floods, Lancaster City Council has received many comments and queries regarding the Local Plan and future housing developments in the district. 

Many different organisations are involved in the management of water: the Environment Agency, United Utilities, Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council.

Lancaster City Council prepares the local plan that identifies development sites. The city council would like to make it clear that part of the evidence base for the Local Plan is a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment. This has been prepared by independent expert consultants. It considers whether the location of development proposed in the Local Plan is appropriate in relation to the known risks from all sources of flooding including surface water.

The recent events have added further intelligence to the understanding of flood risk within the district. Flood risk modelling continues to be updated for watercourses within the District, with a further review of the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment to be undertaken in the coming months once new data is finalised by the Environment Agency.

There are two things to note. The first is that a Local Plan is not complete until it has been through a thorough and independent Examination and the council has considered the Inspector’s report, usually with binding recommendations. The independent Examination will consider flood risk as an important matter and will take into consideration the comments of the Environment Agency and Lancashire County Council as Lead Local Flood Authority, both of whom are statutory partners in the preparation of the Local Plan. 

There remains sufficient time to undertake further evaluations following the recent flooding events before the examination takes place, likely to be in late 2018.

The second is that development can also deliver bespoke solutions to flood risk which can be of benefit to the wider community and may not otherwise happen if development doesn’t occur.

As part of the proposals for the Bailrigg Garden Village, the council has commissioned independent engineering experts to examine how water is managed at present and how water should best be managed in future to reduce flood risk.

For example, the creation of areas of wetland and ponds could ensure that surface water run-off can be better accommodated in times of extreme rainfall such as those experienced last Wednesday.

Galgate is exposed to flood risk at present, however the development of the Garden Village has the potential to put in place mitigation works to reduce, rather than increase, the future flood risk in Galgate.

Any new advice from the Environment Agency and Lead Flood Authority (Lancashire County Council) as a result of last week’s floods will be given full weight by the council and not overridden.  If they cannot support some parts of the Local Plan then it will be revised accordingly.

Last updated: 30 November 2017