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Revealed: the areas building the most new homes in flood zones

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The number of homes being built in areas at risk of flooding is rising, according to data published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.

One in 10 (11%) of all new homes built in England in 2016-17 were constructed in type 3 flood zones - an area the Environment Agency defines as either an area with a “1 in 100 or greater annual probability of river flooding” or a floodplain. Although the total number of homes was not released in the dataset, the latest figures show this proportion was an increase on the 7% of total homes built in 2013-14 and is a continuation of a growing trend to build in flood zones.

The proportion of new homes built on land in flood zone areas which had not previously been developed has also increased, while the amount built on previously developed land has decreased.

YearProportion of all new addresses created in type 3 flood zonesPercentage created on previously developed landPercentage created on non-previously developed land
2013-14 7% 72% 28%
2014-15 8% 74% 26%
2015-16 9% 72% 28%
2016-17 11% 67% 33%

Of the 326 authorities that were listed, 203 (62%) built fewer than 5% of their respective new homes in flood areas in 2016-17. There were nine local authorities where more than half of all new homes built in 2016-17 were in flood zones. In Boston BC, almost all (97%) new homes were built in a type 3 flood zone.   

The 10 councils with the highest proportion of new homes built in flood zones in 2016-17 were:

Local authorityProportion of new homes in type 3 flood zoneProportion of local authority land area in type 3 flood zone
Boston 97% 91%
Kingston upon Hull, City of 92% 88%
South Holland 82% 84%
Southwark 80% 43%
East Lindsey 76% 36%
Hammersmith and Fulham 68% 52%
Castle Point 53% 40%
Newham 53% 40%
Sedgemoor 50% 44%
North Somerset 48% 31%

A spokesperson for Boston BC and East Lindsey DC, itself in the top 10 of areas building in flood zones, said “a large proportion” of both districts are located in flood risk zones but queried the ministry’s data as they said the analysis had not been calculated using the council’s numbers.

According to the Environment Agency, the east Lincolnshire area has experienced at least seven major flooding incidents in the past 20 years, including an incident in 2014 which flooded about 600 homes in Boston

A spokesperson for Sedgemoor DC also said a “significant proportion” of the district is located inside a type 3 flood zone, meaning there is “less opportunity” for direct development outside of these areas.

“Sedgemoor works closely with the Environment Agency and other risk management authorities to ensure that development is as far as possible directed to areas at least flood risk, and that development is make safe over its lifetime through on site mitigation measures and future flood defence improvements (e.g. Bridgwater Tidal Barrier),” the spokesperson said.

A South Holland DC spokesperson said the council “does not support housing development in designated flood plains” but added the majority of the district is classified as a type 3 flood zone in the indicative flood maps produced by the Environment Agency (EA).

“These flood maps show the flood risk without any form of flood mitigation, or prevention measures being in place. This, of course, is not the reality,” the spokesperson said.

According to the council, South Holland operates a “comprehensive coastal flood defence and land drainage system”, managed by the Environment Agency and the county’s internal drainage boards.

In the last couple of weeks, there have been incidents of homes being flooded in Northamptonshire and Norfolk due to storms. 

In 2014 the then planning minister Nick Boles said the government had issued “robust guidance” to local planning authorities on flood risk. Under this guidance, councils are required to “consider the strict tests set out in national policy”, and not build on sites that do not meet these recommendations.  



  • Flooding in Lancashire Christmas 2015

    Revealed: the areas building the most new homes in flood zones

  • Flooding in Lancashire Christmas 2015

    Revealed: the areas building the most new homes in flood zones

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