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Howard and Byrne Solicitors, York - Criminal Defence Specialists

Local MP Calls For Lessons To Be Learnt In York From Flooding In The South

Julian Sturdy

4:48pm 20th February 2014

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy has called on the Government to have a debate on the need to strengthen the safeguards in the planning system to prevent houses being built on floodplains.

Mr Sturdy recently raised his concerns in the House of Commons over the City of York Council’s proposals to build large housing developments in flood-risk areas. He went on to say “With the country suffering some of the worst flooding in living memory... Is it not time that we started to learn the lessons of the past?”

 The MP’s comments will increase pressure on the Council to rethink its controversial plans to build large housing developments on flood plains around York, such as the 650 house site at Germany Beck in Fulford, which was granted planning permission last year. A new town of 5,500 houses near Heslington, to be known as Whinthorpe and a further 750 houses to the north of Haxby have also been proposed by the Council, despite being located in areas prone to flooding.

 In response to Mr Sturdy’s question, the Leader of the House, Andrew Lansley, said “My hon. Friend makes an important point. I am sure that people in York are only too aware of the risk of flooding, following the serious floods in 2007. He will know that the number of dwellings being built in areas of high flood risk is at its lowest since the land use change statistics began in 1989. To mitigate the risk of flooding, the Environment Agency is consulted on planning applications for areas that are at risk of flooding. In the last year for which figures are available, 2012-13, 99% of planning decisions on housing by councils were in line with the agency’s flood risk advice. I hope that that gives him some reassurance about the role of the Environment Agency in the decisions of his council.

The local Conservative MP remains unconvinced. “Whilst it may be true that the vast majority of planning applications have been made in line with the Environment Agency’s guidelines, it is clear that this troubled organisation has got it badly wrong. It has been revealed this week that almost 200,000 homes have been approved to be built on floodplains by the Environment Agency since its formation in 1996. As we have seen, this has been a recipe for disaster, and the Council needs to rethink its short-term and potentially dangerous fascination with building in areas at risk of flooding. If we can prevent households from experiencing the misery of being flooded in the future, so much the better.”

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