Planning and flood risk

Smith, L.; Priestley, S.

This briefing paper sets out the United Kingdom government's planning policy on flooding in England. The Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the accompanying online Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) on Flood Risk and Coastal Change sets “sequential” and “exemption” tests and thresholds to protect property from flooding which all local planning authorities (LPAs) are expected to follow. Where these tests/thresholds are not met, new development should not be allowed.

Local authorities should undertake a "Strategic Flood Risk Assessment" to fully understand the flood risk in their area and to inform local plan preparation. Certain types of planning applications should also be accompanied by a Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) prepared by or on behalf of the applicant.

Under Planning Practice Guidance, new infrastructure development should only be considered appropriate in areas at risk of flooding if priority has been given to the use of sustainable drainage systems. Sustainable drainage systems should be provided unless demonstrated to be “inappropriate”, which is further defined in the guidance.