Housing secretary says plans opposed by Environment Agency will be called in for determination

The housing ministry has pledged to tighten up planning guidance around building on flood plains to ensure that fewer homes are built in places most likely to flood.

Alongside an announcement of £860m in funding for flood defence schemes, housing secretary Robert Jenrick said planning guidance will be amended to make it clear that all planning applications opposed by the Environment Agency on flood grounds should be referred to the secretary of state to make the decision.

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Guidance will also be extended to cover areas deemed to be at risk of surface water flooding for the first time.

The government says that 97% of planning decisions were already made in line with Environment Agency advice in 2019/20, but that, nevertheless, nearly 900 homes were approved against the advice of the agency in the year.

Robert Jenrick MP said the “strengthened” guidance would “ensure the measures are in place to protect our homes and businesses from the risk of flooding.”

He said: “Our planning reforms will ensure that communities across the country know that future developments will be safe from floods.

“This new guidance will help local communities become more flood resilient by providing local authorities with the right tools to consider how flood risk can be prevented when planning for new homes.”

The government is also planning to amend the Flood:Re agreement with insurers to incentivise insurers to make homes which have been flooded more resilient to future inundations through installing products such as air brick covers, flood doors and flood resistant plasterboard.