Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Ryedale District Council (FP 12)


  Thank you for your invitation to this Authority to submit views regarding the issues of flood risk and prevention to the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee. Although Ryedale District Council welcomed Draft PPG25, it called for continually updated guidance on emerging trends resulting from ongoing research. The Authority also supported the risk-based approach to considering new development in floodplains.

  Ryedale District contains the twin towns of Malton and Norton-on-Derwent, which were amongst the worst hit of the many settlements affected by the recent extensive flooding in England and Wales. Indeed, many other settlements in the District were severely affected by the floods, including the town of Pickering. The damage and disruption caused by the recent prolonged period of flooding, which occurred only 18 months after a similar period of extreme flooding in March 1999, has led to great misery and hardship for many residents of the District and has significantly harmed the local economy.

  It is against the above background that this Authority wishes to call primarily for a much greater degree of integration between the bodies involved with flood prevention and control—specifically MAFF, the Environment Agency, internal drainage boards and local authorities.

  There is clearly now an immediate need for action to prevent a repeat of the recent severe flooding, particularly in the Malton/Norton and Pickering areas. To this end, Ryedale District Council is seeking a clear Government direction for close partnership arrangements to be established in Ryedale and other severely affected areas. These partnerships should, as a minimum, involve local representatives of MAFF, the Environment Agency and the District and County Councils.

  This Authority is also seeking support from Government for the consideration of all possible options to alleviate the harm and suffering caused by the severe flooding. A close partnership of the key bodies should have a remit to examine all possible options, not just the traditional range of measures that are normally considered. It is important that the large sums of money required for flood control (over £5 million is likely to be required for a Malton and Norton scheme) are used with imagination and with a view to the costs involved if hard flood defences alone were to fail. In particular, this Authority considers that close investigation is required of the use of compulsory purchase powers in appropriate circumstances, to remove properties that are worst hit by the flooding. The value of such properties is likely to have been significantly affected by the recent floods to the great detriment of property owners and a more sustainable option of creating new recreational/park areas, which also act as washlands, should also be investigated. Such a course of action would, if followed in Norton-on-Derwent, also allow roads to be raised to prevent future blockage by flooding and would also allow road systems to be altered to improve traffic management and access. This kind of approach would also allow the full integration of flood control measures with the Local Plan process and the planning of future infrastructure development.

  Whilst hard flood defences, such as walls, can clearly have significant benefits, there could be considerable disadvantages in creating walls several meters high along either side of the River Derwent between Malton and Norton. Not only could this have significant detrimental effects on the ecology of the River (which is designated as an SSSI and a SINC in this area), but such a feature could destroy the townscape of the river corridor and would represent a huge physical barrier between Malton and Norton. NB. This Authority has sought to increase co-operation and unity between the adjacent towns, which until 1974, were in separate counties (East Riding and North Riding).

  In addition to seeking Government support for close partnerships and bold approaches to flood control, this Authority also wishes to highlight two particular concerns which have been heightened by the recent flooding:

    (i)  Redevelopment of brownfield land.

    This Authority has long been concerned about its ability to meet regional targets for accommodating housing on previously developed land. However, the recent floods have confirmed the susceptibility to flooding of a high percentage of the limited number of brownfield sites that may be available in Malton/Norton and in Pickering. Indeed, many of the limited number of potential brownfield sites in these towns are either wholly or partly in the floodplain. Consequently, there will need to be full recognition by Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber of this major limiting factor when commenting on the current Ryedale Local Plan and future versions.

    (ii)  Permitted development

    This Authority is also concerned about the potential impact of residential permitted development within floodplains. Such rights potentially allow householders to develop up to 50 per cent of their garden area without requiring any permission. The cumulative effect of such uncontrolled development could significantly worsen the risk of flooding in "at risk" areas and the Government are urged to give serious consideration to the withdrawal of such rights for properties within floodplains.

  In addition to the above, it would now be helpful to receive clarification of the sort of considerations that could outweigh the clear objections of the Environment Agency to a proposal on the grounds of flood risk (paragraph 45 of Draft PPG45). The current guidance gives little indication on this important issue.

  I hope that the above comments, which represent the initial response of the officers of this Authority, will be helpful to your Committee in their deliberations.

Julian Rudd
Local Plans and Conservation Manager

17 November 2000

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