Highly vulnerable development in the functional flood plain not justified

25 Oct 2019

Planning and Environment

These appeals related to traveller pitches which had been set up on land within the functional flood plain in Basingstoke and Deane. The decision is of interest because it demonstrates why it will rarely, if ever, be appropriate to permit highly vulnerable development such as caravans in the functional flood plain.

On the main issue Paul Dignan MSc PhD, an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, held that ([31-2 and 59]):

  • The appeal developments were clearly contrary to local and national policy on flood risk and the management of floodwaters in the landscape. This weighed heavily against the developments.
  • The success of the proposed evacuation plan relied on flood alerts, which may not be timely or even occur in the event of the site flooding, on adults being present with sufficient towing vehicles to evacuate touring caravans, on occupants being aware of and able to respond promptly to an alert, on mobile homes being elevated sufficiently to retain stability and provide a place of refuge if the occupiers were unable to evacuate, and on the occupiers remaining off-site for the duration of flood alerts, which can be lengthy. Each of which carried with it an element of uncertainty, so that it was not possible to have a high enough degree of confidence that a site which regularly floods would remain safe for its lifetime, or for any extended period. This added significant adverse weight.
  • Although the appellants also asserted that the proposals would pass the sequential/exception testing process, in the case of highly vulnerable development in the functional floodplain these tests have no application.
  • In those circumstances, the best interests of children were not to remain on site.

Mr Dignan permitted the amendments to the enforcement notices sought by the local authority([10]), dismissed the ground (d) appeals ([11-20]), found that the developments had a substantial adverse effect on landscape character and views ([43]), and found that the access to plot 6/7 would be unsafe ([43]). He also attached adverse weight to the fact that the unlawful development had been carried out intentionally ([60]).

Mr Dignan concluded that, although there was a lack of a 5 year supply of pitches, a need for pitches and a lack of alternative pitches along with personal circumstances which must be given substantial weight, these factors did not outweigh the conflict with the development plan which he had identified, in the context of a permanent or temporary permission ([61-6]). For Plots 3 and 6/7 he extended the compliance period to one year.

You can read the decision here. 

David Lintott acted for the local planning authority in the inquiry.