Celebrations as community pub in South Hinksey reopens following professional flood review
Obtaining professional flood risk advice is an important consideration for all developments. The role of an experienced civil engineer in reviewing and advising on flood risk measures is necessary to protect potential occupiers. The Environment Agency is correct to reject the cheap mass / computer generated flood risk reports which are available from many of the major UK engineering consultants.However flood risk is often not the only, or even the most relevant planning consideration. There are many different types of risks and modes of flood mitigation. All too often we find that the Environment Agency has advised against development, without due consideration of the specific risks and mitigating measures. It is essential that communities are not sterilised by such an approach to flooding, restricting the community’s viability and limiting essential investment.
A good example of this is when local village Helen and Cass Hazlewood, who live in the village of South Hinksey (near Oxford), bought the General Elliot pub lease from Vale Breweries, so they could revitalise and open it back for the benefit of the community. The property had remained shut for five years.
Early discussions with the Vale of White Horse Planning Officers, has indicated that the Council would be minded to permit such a development, subject to satisfactory review and mitigation as necessary, as regarding the flooding risk. As such, a formal Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) was requested to be included with the application.
To accommodate the initial planning application Helen and Cass Hazelwood commissioned a flood screening report from a large consultancy. The report was of a generic format and there was inconsistency between evidence and professional advice. The report did not address many of the issues required by a professional flood risk assessment. Rightly so, this report was rejected by the Environment Agency as inadequate. Wilsham Consulting was then contacted to produce a professional flood risk assessment.
The East of South Hinksey has a history of flooding related issues for many years, so it is necessary for these to be considered and mitigated, so far as reasonably possible. It is the only pub in the village and in the past has provided a central focal point for the village community. The pub has suffered previously with commercial viability and the addition of holiday let accommodation is suggested as central to the overall pubs viability.
The application site was located within Flood Zone 3 on the Environment Agency Flood Map, meaning that it has a high probability of flooding of greater than 1% AEP or a 1:100 year or greater annual probability of river flooding. AEP is the Annual Exceedance Probability.
The Technical Guidance to the National Planning Policy Framework sets out Government planning policy with respect to developing in areas at risk of flooding, and specifies that all applications for planning permission within Flood Zones 2 or 3 must be accompanied by a professional FRA.
Wilsham Consulting Ltd (‘Wilsham’) was commissioned by the client to undertake this independent professional flood risk assessment that is specific to the elements and issues associated with this site/development.
The original screening FRA report suggested the raising of the finished flood level to 56.94mAOD, approximately 1m above the existing level. The existing floor was 56.01mAOD. Clearly raising the existing floor by nearly 1m was not a realistic suggestion. It would have made the entire redevelopment impossible.
Wilsham Consulting met the client and local Authority representative on site to agree reasonable mitigation measures. Subsequently the scheme was approved and is now open for business!
Contact us to find out more as to how Wilsham Consulting can help save your local community facility.