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Newark and Sherwood District Council agree to lobby for increased powers for flood alleviation scheme requirements on new developments





A council will lobby for increased powers so it can insist on floodproofing measures for new developments.

A motion was put forward by Roger Jackson and amended by Andy Freeman, stating that Newark and Sherwood District Council would raise concerns to the government and Local Government Association about its inability to insist on developers properly costing flood alleviation works, or carrying them out earlier in the development.

Mr Jackson’s original motion suggested the council should put in place a policy making sure all new builds in the district have a comprehensive flood alleviation scheme where needed, that flood and drainage measures should be among the first things the developer has to do when they move onto a site, and that a proper costed scheme must be in place for future long term maintenance.

Castle House, headquarters of Newark and Sherwood District Council.
Castle House, headquarters of Newark and Sherwood District Council.

He explained he had concerns about “cunning” developers finding loopholes in current legislation — in which flood protection restrictions and proposals can only be put on ten-plus house applications. He was also concerned about developers leaving flood prevention schemes to become overgrown and unmaintained, and not putting the schemes in at the start of developments to prevent water run off and ensure the system works and gets done.

The amendment noted that the council’s Amended Allocations and Development Management plan, which is currently awaiting public examination “requires site‐specific flood risk assessments and details of measures to mitigate the potential for on‐site surface water flooding risk and management ensuring that flood risk is not increased elsewhere”.

The district experienced significant flooding during storms Babet and Henk.
The district experienced significant flooding during storms Babet and Henk.

It seeks to steer developments away from high risk flood areas and ensure that developments don’t increase flood risk elsewhere. It also requires that developments have sustainable drainage systems, and that drainage systems have maintenance schedules, Mr Freeman explained.

He said the policies “do address a lot of the concerns” raised in the motion, but added: “The motion has however highlighted some things that as a local planning authority we can’t do.

“We cannot, for example, stipulate that drainage and flood alleviation should be built first, or upfront as part of a development, and we also cannot insist that such schemes be properly funded.

“The amendment seeks to lobby and put forward the case for local authorities to have that power. We will lobby the LGA, we will lobby this government and the next government.”

Linda Dales, who had seconded Mr Jackson’s motion, said: “I’m equally happy to support the amendment, because I also recognise that this district council can do very little by itself.

“As a member of the planning committee, despite the impact of Babet and Henk, I’m still obliged to work within the existing national policy frameworks and I think that we are all frustrated that we cannot just start to apply stricter conditions… I am sure this district council is doing all that we can.

The district experienced significant flooding during storms Babet and Henk.
The district experienced significant flooding during storms Babet and Henk.

“Since Babet and Henk we are looking at very different flood landscape and we need to be able to reflect that in out planning policy decisions. We need policy change.”

Many councillors spoke in favour of the motion, and the “full council” approach to supporting it, highlighting flooding experiences in their wards during the recent storms.

Jack Kellas noted that some of his ward’s residents had approached him to ask about what the planning committee could do, while Paul Taylor also supported the motion, highlighting the council’s commitment to “not forget” the floods and continue seeking a resolution.

Simon Haynes added: “None of us want to turn up to local meetings with residents and see them in floods of tears about the scenario they’ve found themselves in, so everything we can do to support and alleviate that we should try and do… regardless of who has made what decisions in the past, it’s about what we’re doing for the future to make sure our residents are looked after and that these developments are built in the right way to make sure we don’t compound on issues.”

Irene Brown added that the motion was a long time coming and said it is “about time we stopped sticking sticking plasters on”.

The district experienced significant flooding during storms Babet and Henk.
The district experienced significant flooding during storms Babet and Henk.

Closing the debate Mr Jackson said: “I accepted the amendment as I think it’s better that we send it as an united front.

“I don’t want this motion to get lost, I want it up there, I want it to be taken seriously.

“If we are serious about climate change and our environment, we have to make hard, strong decisions and not just follow national policy and guidelines.

“If it says we can’t do it, then we fight to get these stupid policies changed.”

The amended motion was passed unanimously.



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