Minister underlines fact that new guidance will saddle construction companies with flood defence costs.
Housing and planning minister Nick Raynsford this week confirmed that developers would in future be required to meet the cost of flood defences.

He also made the point that they would have to demonstrate that they could provide flood protection before projects would be approved.

Raynsford, addressing the environment transport and regional affairs select committee, said new rules (PPG25), now expected early next year, would sharpen and toughen guidelines in the wake of the this month's floods.

He said there would be no blanket ban on building on flood plains but applications for functional flood plains – areas that flood as part of an area's natural drainage pattern – would only be permitted on an exceptional basis.

Justifying the decision not to introduce a total ban, he said: "We think we couldn't make our brownfield target of 60%. Where there are appropriate protections in place, such as the Thames Barrier, we should not say 'no' to building."

Raynsford said PPG25 would also encourage more effective flood defence design.

Environment Agency director of water management Geoff Mance told MPs that there was now no excuse for developers not to be conscious of the dangers of flooding when they designed housing estates or commercial properties.

The agency believes that 1 million people are still at risk from flooding and that £4bn will have to be spent over the next 40 years to protect the Thames estuary. The agency intends to set up a website in the near future showing which areas in the UK are on flood plains.

The Building Regulations are to be changed next year to promote the concept of "sustainable drainage", in which water seeps naturally into the ground.

The House Builders' Federation has appointed a former house builder as a caretaker chief executive.

Andrew MacKenzie, former chief executive of Bryant Homes and a former HBF president, has already taken up the post. He replaces Stuart Hill, who left the post suddenly last month. MacKenzie will stay until the New Year, when the position will be reviewed.