9% of homes built in England last year 'in areas at high risk of flooding'

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Almost one in 10 new homes in England built last year were in areas threatened by flooding, official statistics show.

Some 9% of residential properties constructed in 2015/2016 were in areas at a high risk of river or coastal flooding, up from 8% the previous year and 7% in 2013/2014, the figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government show.

While 62 councils did not see any houses built on the flood plain over the past three years, in six local authorities - all with a high risk of flooding - more than half of new homes built between 2013 and 2016 were in flood-prone areas.

Around a tenth of England is at a high risk of flooding from rivers or the sea, not taking into account flood defences.

The statistics also reveal a drop in the proportion of houses being built on the Green Belt in 2015/2016, at 2% compared to 3% the previous year.

But in a dozen local authority areas, a quarter or more of the new homes built between 2013 and 2016 went up on the Green Belt, the figures show.

The proportion of homes being built on agricultural land in the last year almost trebled across England to 13%, from 5% in 2014/2015, the figures show.

There was a decline in "garden grabbing", with just one in 20 new homes (5%) built in what was a residential garden, down from 8% two years earlier.

Overall, 61% of new homes were built on previously developed land in 2015/2016, a higher proportion than the year before.

Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole said the situation was "ridiculous".

"We urgently need more homes we can afford, not more homes that will flood.

"By permitting these reckless developments, councils and the Government are consigning new home-owners to future flooding misery - ever more so as our climate changes for the worse.

"Ministers should give the Environment Agency the power and resources to veto building on floodplains outright," he urged.

 

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "We have put in place strong safeguards to stop inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding.

"Where there is a risk, planning authorities have a responsibility to make sure new buildings are resilient.

"Building regulations already promote the use of flood-resilient construction and last year we worked with the industry to strengthen guidance."