Urban Initiatives, the architect masterplanning the Ashford growth area in Kent, has called on the government to clarify its policy on building on flood plains after a 6000-unit project had to be scaled back

The practice is working up a design-coded plan for 31,000 homes in the Kent growth area, and had aimed to build 6000 of these on the Canal District, which is on a flood plain. Now the scheme is believed to face being cut to 1000 houses after the Environment Agency complained that it did not comply with current thinking on flood plains, as outlined in PPG 25.

The Canal District, so called because of its urban waterways, lies to the south of Ashford town centre and is part of the expansion of the town that is being co-ordinated by a partnership that includes Ashford and Kent councils, the Government Office for the South East and regeneration agency English Partnerships.

The team had been trying to satisfy fellow partner the Environment Agency that its vision for the area, which would involve raising the land and moving the flood plain to the east, was feasible.

The planners in the team had hoped to convince the agency to adapt PPG25 by putting forward engineered solutions to combat potential flooding.

Decisions need to be taken at a very high level on how to approach building on floodplains

Marcus Wilshere, Urban Initiatives

Marcus Wilshere, director of Urban Initiatives and chairman of campaign body Urban Design Alliance, said the agency had called on the architect to spend time and resources to provide detailed evidence that the plan would succeed.

He said: “The sort of evidence the agency required would’ve been very detailed. This is a big issue for all the government’s regeneration areas, including the Thames Gateway. Decisions need to be taken at a very high level on how to approach building on floodplains.”