Planning and Flood Risk Management

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1 Corporate Operations Supplementary Guidance SG18 Planning and Flood Risk Management Stirling Council Local Development Plan October de

2 Supplementary Guidance 18 Planning and Flood Risk Management 1.0 Introduction 1.1 Flooding is part of the hydrological cycle. Extensive floods occur when rivers reclaim natural low lying flood plains during periods of high rainfall. Where these have been built over flooding can be life threatening and result in extensive and expensive property and infrastructure damage and great inconvenience to residents and businesses. More localised flooding also occurs, for example when intense rainfall overwhelms more impervious hard urban catchments and constricted culverted water courses. Floods can also surcharge surface and waste water drainage systems to the detriment of public health. Flooding in the vicinity of the Forth estuary is also potentially influenced by prevailing tidal conditions. This SG summarises legislation, policy and guidance relating to planning and flood risk management. 2.0 The Climate Change (Scotland) Act Between 1961 and 2004 Scotland has become 20% wetter, with an increase of almost 70% in precipitation in northern Scotland. Heavy rainfall events have increased significantly in winter, particularly in northern and western regions. Latest projections indicate increased frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events. Climate change induced sea level rises will also impact on estuarine levels. 2.2 The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 requires actions to be taken in relation to climate 3.0 The Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 (FRM Act) 3.1 One such action is the bringing into force of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act This introduces a more sustainable and modern approach to flood risk management to achieve maximum possible social and economic resilience against flooding for current and future generations. The Act also places duties on the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and responsible authorities, such as local authorities, including a duty to exercise their functions to reduce overall flood risk. 3.2 In June 2011 the Scottish Government published Delivering Sustainable Flood Risk Management. This sets out statutory guidance to SEPA, local authorities and Scottish Water on fulfilling their duties under the FRM Act, in particular on the steps to be taken to manage flooding in a sustainable and integrated manner and the need to take account of all interventions that can affect flood risk. Land use planning decisions are deemed to be one of the most powerful tools available to manage flood risk. Further details on the five overarching outcomes are at the end of this SG. 3.3 A flood risk management planning process has been established that will ensure that long-term and nationally focused objectives are balanced with local knowledge and priorities. A national flood risk assessment on the causes and impacts of flooding has now been completed, and Potentially Vulnerable Areas identified to help target studies, actions and investment to reduce flood risk. By June 2016 catchment based Local Flood Risk Management Plans (LFRMP s) will be prepared to supplement SEPA s strategic objectives and measures, and translate the strategies into coordinated actions to reduce the impacts of flooding. 2

3 3.4 Relevant to the Stirling Council LDP area: i) Substantial parts of the LDP area are identified by SEPA as Potentially Vulnerable Areas (PVA s), where the potential impact from flooding is sufficient to justify further assessment and appraisal of Flood Risk Management actions. It is important to note not all properties within a PVA are at risk of flooding, conversely some areas outwith the PVAs will be at risk of flooding. PVA s are based on catchment units and will allow Scottish Government, SEPA, local authorities and Scottish Water to develop a planned response to manage flood risk effectively. ii) Stirling Council is the lead authority in the preparation of the Forth District LFRMP and is also a partner in the preparation of LFRMP s for the Forth Estuary, Tay and Clyde & Loch Lomond Districts. iii) Following adoption the LFRMP s will be material consideration in the determination of planning applications and in the review of future LDP s. 3.5 Further information on PVA s and Local Plan Districts is available on the SEPA website via this link River Basin Management Planning 4.1 River Basin Management Planning, led by SEPA, takes a source to sea approach to integrating land and water management to improve the quality of Scotland s Waters. The FRM Act requires consistency and coordination between River Basin Planning and Flood Risk Management, for example by promoting land management measures to deliver both flooding and environmental benefits. Stirling Council s role in the RBMP process is explained in further detail in SG 34 Planning and Water Quality. 5.0 National Planning Policy and Guidance 5.1 Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) 2010 notes that all land is to some degree susceptible to flooding and specifically states:- Development which would have a significant probability of being affected by flooding or would increase the probability of flooding elsewhere should not be permitted Account must be taken of the probability of flooding from all sources - coastal, fluvial (water course), pluvial (surface water), groundwater, sewers and blocked culverts - and the risks involved taken into account when preparing development plans and determining planning applications. Developers and planning authorities should take a precautionary approach in taking decisions when flood risk is an issue. SEPA Flood Maps (2014) provide a basis for identifying flood risk areas arising from fluvial coastal and tidal sources. 5.2 SPP also includes advice on: i) A Risk Framework - This provides the basis for decision making on planning applications where flood risk is an issue. ii) Flood Protection Measures - In only limited circumstances will flood protection measures be an acceptable way to minimise flood risk. iii) Flood Management Measures - Where possible, natural features and characteristics of catchments should be restored so as to slow, reduce or otherwise manage flood waters. iv) Landraising - This may have a role in some circumstances, though the advice given is heavily 3

4 qualified. It is likely also the provision and maintenance of compensatory flood storage for urban redevelopment sites would be complex and very difficult to implement. v) Drainage - The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (CAR) require all surface water from new development to be treated by a sustainable drainage system (SUDS) before it is discharged into the water. These seek to mimic natural drainage systems and should have a neutral or better effect on the risk of flooding both on and off the site. vi) Culverts - These are a frequent cause of local flooding, particularly if design or maintenance is inadequate. Watercourses should generally not be culverted and existing culverts opened whenever possible. It should be noted river engineering measures require licensing under CAR. Further information can be found at: The Scottish Government s Planning Advice Note 69: Planning and Building Standards Advice on Flooding (August 2004) reiterates the responsibilities of local authorities and developers to ensure future built development is not located in areas with a significant risk of flooding, including functional flood plains. However, there are circumstances where development would benefit from selecting designs, forms of construction and materials which may help to minimise the effects of a flood event on the property. 6.0 Local Development Plan (LDP) and Development Management 6.1 Local Development Plan (LDP) The Stirling LDP reflects national legislation and policy relating to flood risk by requiring new development and land use changes:- i) determine the principle of the site being developed from a flood risk management point of view, including by reviewing SEPA Flood Maps (2014) (fluvial, coastal and surface water) ii) avoid areas at risk of flooding and erosion (Sustainable Development Criteria). The Settlement Statement maps identify medium probability layers (1:200 years) for fluvial and coastal extents, based on SEPA s Flood Maps (2014). These are the key datasets for screening new developments for flood risk and providing the first indication of flood risk in a proposed development location. This mapping and supporting information can be accessed at: Primary Policy (PP) 5: Flood Risk Management and Policy 5.1: Reinstate Natural Watercourses set out the flood risk management issues to be taken into account in the determination of planning applications and other planning based decisions of the Council. 6.2 Development Management Decisions on planning applications have to be made in accordance with the provisions of the LDP unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Given the key role of the planning system in managing flood risk developers will be expected to fully comply with the requirements of Primary Policy 5, Policy 5.1 and this SG deemed relevant to their proposal. Where a development proposal is likely to result in flood risk management issues it is strongly recommended developers consult with SEPA and Stirling Council s Flood Officers prior to the submission of a formal planning application. Advice at this stage, though informal and without prejudice to the final decision on any application that may be submitted, would help:- i) determine the principle of the site being developed from a flood risk management point of view, 4

5 including by reviewing SEPA Flood Maps (2014) (fluvial, coastal and surface water), ii) identify supporting information, for example a Flood Risk Assessments (FRA), requiring to be submitted with an application, iii) highlight design considerations such as the requirement for SuDS and the use of resilient materials. A supporting drainage impact assessment may also be requested, and iv) identify the most up to date national and local policy and advice on flood risk management issues that apply to the development site, e.g. as might be contained in the forthcoming FRMP s covering the LDP area. Any subsequent formal planning application raising flood risk management issues will be assessed against the criteria set out in PP5 and Policy 5.1 and will be the subject of consultation with SEPA and Stirling Council s Flood Officers. 7.0 SEPA advice on FRA s 7.1 Flood risk assessments (FRA) are submitted in support of planning applications. Where the Council considers that there might be a risk of flooding to the development site it has a statutory duty to consult SEPA for advice and guidance on flood risk. SEPA will review FRA reports and provide advice to the Council on the appropriateness of the study, its conclusions and the acceptability of the proposed development relative to Scottish Planning Policy. Stirling Coucil s Flood Officers will be consulted on a similar basis and will review FRA s, with particular account taken of detailed knowledge of local hydrology and flood incidents. 7.2 The technical requirements of an FRA for any site can range from the provision of detailed topographic information to demonstrate the relative level of the development site in relation to the river/floodplain to technically-detailed hydrological and 1- or 2-dimensional hydraulic modelling to investigate the risk to the development or its impact elsewhere. 7.3 Clearly, the time taken to review FRAs is linked to the complexity of the site, including the technical complexity of the study, however, it is also dependent on the quality of the information presented. Given that consultants are employed by developers to undertake FRAs there is clearly scope for different corporate styles and formats although there are core data and information that should be clearly presented to facilitate the rapid review/audit of reports with the subsequent provision of advice to the Council. To further facilitate the timely review of FRA s SEPA has developed a Consultant flood risk assessment checklist to be completed as an aide memoir to ensure key aspects have been considered and included in the report. (See: aspx) 8.0 Development in the built-up area of the Functional Flood Plains 8.1 SEPA Flood Maps (2014) clearly shows parts of the built-up area,including residential areas in Stirling and some other communities, to be within the functional flood plain, i.e. will generally have a greater than 0.5% (1:200) probability of flooding in any year. Occupiers of houses and other property in these areas will be aware of the situation through communications about flood warning schemes. 8.2 It is currently considered unreasonable to apply a strict no development policy in these areas. When planning permission is required minor alterations and extensions to buildings, including house extensions, are unlikely to be refused consent for flood risk reasons. Each proposal will however be reviewed on a 5

6 case by case basis and, as previously noted, it is strongly recommended developers consult with Stirling Council (Planning and Flooding Services) and SEPA prior to the submission of a formal planning application. 8.3 A precautionary approach will be taken in relation to proposals that increase the numbers of people in flood plain areas, including changes of use, for example from dwellings to care homes or children s nurseries. In all cases the area of impermeable surface should be kept to a minimum. SEPA has also published Land Use Vulnerability Guidance (July 2012) which can be viewed via this link:- sepa.org.uk/planning/flood_risk/policies_and_guidance.aspx 9.0 Delivering a Sustainable Flood Risk Management (June 2011) 9.1 This document, briefly referred to in the preceeding text, seeks to ensure adoption of consistent principles and approaches based on good practice lessons in flood risk management. It identifies five overarching outcomes for Scotland:- A reduction in the number of people, homes and property at risk of flooding as a result of public funds being invested in actions that protect the most vulnerable and those areas at greatest risk of flooding. Rural and urban landscapes with space to store water and slow down the progress of floods. Integrated drainage that decreases burdens on our sewer systems while also delivering reduced flood risk and an improved water environment. A well informed public who understand flood risk and take actions to protect themselves, their property or their businesses. Flood management actions being undertaken that will stand the test of time and be adaptable to future changes in the climate. 9.2 It further notes that integrated drainage must be a key consideration in planning decisions, so that sustainable drainage is embedded into the fabric of our urban and rural landscapes. Good surface water management will involve increased use of SUDS and creation of surface water flow routes that divert floods to areas where impacts will be minimised. The best solutions will be achieved when the full drainage system, from source to receiving water, is designed from the outset. This allows the optimum balance between source, site and regional controls to be achieved. 6

7 Further Information Please contact: APPENDIX B B Planning Services Corporate Operations Stirling Council Teith House Kerse Road Stirling FK7 7QA Telephone: If you need help or this information supplied in an alternative format please call text: phone: web:

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