Insurance giant to revise Reading scheme after Environment Agency raises flood worries

Prudential has withdrawn a plan for 7,500 homes in the Thames Valley after a threat by the Environment Agency to veto it because of flooding concerns.

The announcement by PruPIM, the insurance firm’s property arm, that it is withdrawing the planning application for its Kennet Valley Park scheme to the south-west of Reading coincides with a report this week warning that thousands of homes in the east of England are at risk of flooding because of rising sea levels.

PruPIM said last week that it had withdrawn its application, which was submitted during the summer.

The company had been working on plans for the 910ha site to the south of the M4 for the past three years. It is next to Prudential’s Green Park development, where the firm entered into a joint venture with Berkeley Homes.

But the Environment Agency, which gained fresh powers to police developments in flood plains at the beginning of last month, has formally objected. An agency spokesman said the development would have to be significantly scaled back to reduce the risk.

Kevin Ashman, the development director of PruPIM, said it would submit a revised application in the new year. He said:

“Given the nature and scale of the application, we feel it would be helpful to have a further opportunity to explain our proposals.”

The report on the dangers of flooding, by the Association of British Insurers, warns that 130,000 homes in the east of England will be at risk as a result of a 40cm rise in sea levels expected by 2040. The report says that an additional £8bn of investment is needed.

Barbara Young, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: “To meet the challenges of rising sea levels and increased storms, funding levels will not only need to be maintained but increased over the next few years.”