“Lucky not to flood” Insurable? Canvey Island, not quite what Sir Michael Pitt had in mind!

During a month when the Government Scientist has released a critical report on the drainage capability of Canvey Island and the Essex County Council representative has suggested Canvey is “lucky” to have not been flooded on more occasions, we learn that the Castle Point planning committee are prepared to ignore the warnings and advice from experts!

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A planning proposal in Kollum Road, Canvey, to demolish one property and replace it with two properties has been passed by the development committee following officers recommendation.

Canvey Island Green Belt Campaign group have reserved judgement on the new regime in control at Castle Point Council especially whilst the Local Plan is in process, but we are now concerned that the direction of planning policy remains unaltered in the face of quite alarming messages.

The proposal in question is to develop on a site in a road affected by the flooding from the July rainfall.

The Environment Agency, having been convinced by a Castle Point Council delegation that Canvey Island should be considered a “special case” when considering development proposals, have wrested responsibility for safety and suitability into CPBC’s hands.

In their advice on the proposal in question the Environment Agency indicate the:

“Summary of Flood Risk Responsibilities for your Council

Prior to deciding this application you should give due consideration to the issues below. It may be that you need to consult relevant experts outside your planning team.

Safety of people (including the provision and adequacy of an emergency plan, temporary refuge or evacuation arrangements.

Safety of the building.

Flood recovery   measures including flood proofing, resilience and resistance measures.

Sustainability of the development.

Whether insurance can be gained or not.

It is vital that those owning any new developments are able to access insurance.

Insurance is generally a prerequisite for the vast majority of mortgages and therefore underpins local housing markets.

If insurance is not available, a property could become impossible to buy or sell; therefore it is important that a new development is insurable from a flood risk perspective.”

“The Association of British Insurers preference is for flood avoidance over flood resistance and resilience measures.” –

Given the flood depths for this development site, from a breach of the sea defence could reach an estimated 2 metres deep, little regard is given to future Insurance availability on these properties by the CPBC planning department!

The EA advise planning officers

“In making your decision on this planning application we advise you consider the sustainability of the development over it’s lifetime.”

Housing development in a Flood Zone, such as Canvey Island, is required to pass both the Sequential and Exception Test.

Disregarding the Sequential Test, as this is automatically passed under CPBC planning authority’s own interpretation of the NPPF requirement, an applicant is required to demonstrate that their development

“is safe, will not increase flood risk elsewhere and where possible will reduce flood risk overall.”

The officer’s report makes absolutely NO comment or reference to whether this particular housing development will impact upon neighbouring properties flood risk and this in a road subjected to flooding in the July 2014 event !

It is a shame that after the in depth work from Sir Michael Pitt in his review of the floods of 2007, the report by Essex County Council involving the Environment Agency, Anglian Water, Essex Fire and Rescue and others, and the review of the ECC report from the Government’s Office for Science, that the Castle Point planning authority deem their decision making above and beyond criticism.

The ECC report itself indicates that

“combined with the densely developed urban areas and covering of open water courses has created an exceptional reliance on the designed drainage system…. a large amount of Canvey’s drainage system was designed prior to the introduction of national design standards and is therefore likely to be of a lesser capacity than new infrastructure…. Increased development and subsequent pressure on the already strained drainage system has meant that in some locations the capacity is not sufficient to provide effective drainage and mitigate flood risk.”

While the CPBC Planning Authority continue to make decisions, in the knowledge that there are serious issues with the drainage and that the population should not be increased, for an area like Canvey Island, not only is it fully understandable why the district and its residents have suffered from flooding and infrastructure issues over recent years, but the promise of more to come undeniable.

It appears a policy of Carry on Regardless, where Canvey Island is concerned!

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2 responses to ““Lucky not to flood” Insurable? Canvey Island, not quite what Sir Michael Pitt had in mind!

  1. Thanks for highlighting these points, however recent events have not been the only case where the Planning Authority have been reminded of its responsibilities with regards to flood risk. The evidence is overwhelmingly advising against development on flood plain. Castle Point Council has taken the approach to persistently ignore warnings on the basis that the housing need justifies the risk. To actively seek to continue to put people and their belongings at risk is irresponsible at best. It is not therefore unreasonable to assume that should inappropriate development cause an uninsured loss through surface water damage the injured party should be able to look for compensation from the Councils Planning Authority.

    • Steve
      Thanks for your input.
      I was reminded of the couple I spoke to at the last scrutiny flood meeting.
      Before moving to Canvey, they telephoned to seek reassurance directly from the Environment Agency that the property they were considering purchasing was not at risk of flood.
      They were told it was safe to do so.
      That was 3 years ago.
      Since then they have suffered damage and loss from both the 2013 and the 2014 floods!
      Where new development is concerned Castle Point Council should be made to accept liability.
      Not for the first time I have had it suggested that it may not be co-incidental that the effort to address the drainage situation on Canvey may have much to do with CPBC having to allocate housing development sites through the Local Plan.
      Editor

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