Architects and engineers argue new developments put pressure on overloaded drainage systems and infrastructure


A coalition of architects, civil engineers, environmental scientists and water experts have appealed to the House of Lords to ensure the new housing law protects homes from flooding.

Contributing to the Housing and Planning Bill debate currently passing through the Lords, the coalition said that new development will place additional pressure on critical drainage and flood defence infrastructure.

The group wants the Lords to amend the Bill so that it restricts developers’ right to connect new houses to existing drainage systems – many of which, they argue, are already over-loaded – and compel them to integrate measures such as sustainable drainage systems.

The group includes the ICE, RIBA, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Institution of Environmental Sciences and Water UK. 

Former ICE president David Balmforth said: “Flooding is one of the major challenges facing society today, yet we continue to add to the problem by building new homes in a way that makes flooding more likely.”

Terry Fuller, chief executive of CIWEM said: “It is absurd that in the current age we still allow developers to build homes and automatically connect to the sewer system without any consideration of the impact of doing so.

“This amendment would set us on the right path to encourage developers to consider flood risk from the outset”.

In the Budget last month, Chancellor George Osborne pledged an extra £700m on top of the £2.3bn already committed to invest in over 1,500 flood defences across the country.

A report earlier this year by the Local Government Association calculated almost £250m worth of damage was caused to UK infrastructure by Storms Desmond and Eva over the winter.

Worst hit by the winter flooding was Cumbria, which sustained £175m worth of damage to roads, bridges and drainage systems.

The A591 – a vital Lake District tourist route – in particular was badly hit, with part of the road collapsing entirely due to flooding.

Contractor Kier, which already provides maintenance for Cumbrian roads in a deal with Highways England, won a deal to rebuild the road, which is expected to re-open in May.

Also damaged by the floods were Calderdale, which sustained £33m worth of damage to infrastructure, as well as Northumberland with £24m and Lancashire with £5m.