House-building targets need to take into account climate change

CLIMATE change and how it will exacerbate the risk of flooding needs to be considered before new homes are built, according to a report prepared for the council.

Arun District Council’s Authorities Monitoring Report (AMR) says the area, as a coastal district, is likely to experience ‘some of the most severe impacts’ of climate change.

These include hotter and drier summers, milder and wetter winters, droughts and water shortages, increased storminess and windspeeds, and rising sea levels.

The Arun Strategic Flood Risk Assessment says large parts of Arun are already susceptible to flood risk from the sea, rivers, watercourses and groundwater, and the AMR concludes this will only increase with climate change.

The report has been provided to councillors ahead of a crunch meeting on Wednesday when they will decide whether to approve plans to build 3,660 homes in Arun until 2029.

The effects high volume bouse-building will have on ground water levels has long been one of the areas of concern for campaigners.

It adds: “Care must be taken to ensure that development is not inappriately located in terms of flood risk and does not exacerbate flood problems.

“The potential impacts of climate change need to be taken into account in planning for all new development, both in terms of location and design. This will include major development away from areas of high flood risk.”

Angela Tester is joint secretary of Littlehampton Flood Action Group and has a degree in geology.

She said the area is already prone to flooding because homes have been built on chalk and river gravel.

She said: “The idea of building these homes is absolutely terrible. The thing is, what’s underneath us is chalk and river gravel, all of which water travels through very easily. Places like Yapton which have clay underneath are even worse. When you get excess water in the chalk you get ground water coming up, and a lot of properties in our area need to have pumps to remove that ground water.”

On Wednesday councillors will be asked not only to approve house-building targets of 3,660 homes until 2029, but also where they go.

Councils around the country have been tasked by central Government to allocate sites where homes can be built.

The number of homes a given council should plan for depends on what is considered to be the area’s need, which takes into account projected population growth.

Some councillors have argued it is important the council adopts house-building targets as part of its local plan to give it a more creditable standing in the eyes of the government’s planning inspector.

By adopting a local plan that incorporates new house-building targets the council, so the argument goes, would be better able to turn down unwanted planning inspections without the same likelihood of being defeated at appeal.

Miss Tester added: “It’s a basic problem for the area. “When you talk about more houses for the area, there is more concrete, more tarmac, and the water has to go somewhere, so it goes into our Victorian drains, which have their limits.”