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Posts published in “Campaigns”

Dorset Heathland Consultation

There is a new draft supplimentary document to the Dorset Heathland Strategy. It directly affects home/business owners living near Ferndown Common or West Parley Common. Anyone living within 4Km of either of these commons will also potentially be affected. The document also covers all other designated Dorset Heathland sites.

This is a joint consultation by BCP and Dorset councils. The consultation runs until 3rd February 2020. The basis of the document is to provide supplementary guidance on what development is allowed within 400m of Dorset Heathland and also within 4Km of a designated Dorset heathland site. It also outlines the associated planning costs.

It will impact (for example) anyone who lives within 400m of either site and wishes to build a Granny Annex or a new in-fill development. The document also sets out the costs associated with planning permission for a range of developments anywhere within the 4 Km boundary.

The document also gives a few examples of what would constitute allowed development as well as what would be refused.

Scan through the document. Ensure you are aware of the strategy. Make sure you are not adversely affected by it. Even if you do not wish to comment.

Accessing the Document

Accessing  the document is not easy. The provided link in the email sent out to interested partys (aka SFRA members) to the BCP document link is broken. The Dorset Council document link is obscured by access being through a “Survey” button.

However we have deduced a direct link to the document on the Dorset council website On This Link

If for some reason this stops working then document access can be made through This Dorset Council webpage

When you arrive at the linked page click the “Take Survey” button. This “Take the Survey” “Start Now” button has been used to access the pdf document. You will not have to do a survey to get it.

Addresses for Comments or Criticism

If you have any comments or criticism then address them to:

Email: Please title the email as ‘Heathland SPD’.

Or by normal mail to:

Post: Strategic Planning, Growth and Infrastructure, Civic Centre, Poole, BH15 2NS.

Note that as this is a joint consultation. It appears all comments are being directed through the BCP council. (Both of the addresses above were taken off the Dorset Council webpage and so are assumed to be correct) Please make sure to indicate that this is a joint consultation and this is the provided address from Dorset council. Also state you are under Dorset Council.

All comments/criticism should arrive by midday 3rd February.

The finalised document will then go forward to committee with the target date for implementation the 1st April 2020.

The SFRA will (of course) be very interested to receive any comments you wish to make on the bottom of this post too.

Flood Risk Zones

(This post is part of an occasional series. It is  on how the UK planning system works. These posts are not by planning experts but rather by interested amateurs. They come as-is. Any corrections welcome)

Every council has to produce a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment. It produces this document in conjunction with the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency divides locality into Flood Risk Zones.

As an example: Here is the Dorset Council Flood Risk Management Strategy.

Note:The existing document for Dorset Council appears to be a legacy document from Dorset County council that has been inherited by the new authority.
Here is the link: Flood Risk Management Strategy for Dorset

This is now based on (relatively ) new government guidance held on this site
Planning Practice Guidance
and particularly this link
Flood Risk and Coastal Change

Unfortunately both of these government sites are quite poorly presented and make for difficult reading.

Flood risk assessment is one of the the most important aspects of any new development. It is also in some cases important for smaller developments too. Or even extensions to existing properties. Is is worth knowing that Councils are always supposed to adopt a cautionary approach when considering developments in potential flood areas.

It is one of the biggest potential problems faced by developers and can be very difficult to override, even when the developer is armed with expensive lawyers.

The Strategic Flood Risk Assessment does not deal with individual sites. However it does cover the overall ethos that the council aspires to meet regarding flood risk and development site allocation. But it has been known for councils to attempt to ditch their own guidelines. Or sometimes work round them if it suites their agenda.

Flood Risk Zones

Environment Agency opendata logoAreas are analyzed by the Environment Agency and then divided into one of three Flood Risk Zones (the third and most prone to flooding is subdivided into two 3A and 3B)

Flood Zone One:

This is the safest and least likely to flood. The odds of flooding are less than one in a thousand. This is what all developers want to get their land categorised as.

Flood Zone Two:

The flood risk on a category two site is between 1:100 and 1:1000. A developer would regard getting development land categorised as category 2 as a serious blow to development potential. They would often be prepared to spend a lot of money to try and overturn the categorisation and get it re-categorised to Category One.

Flood Zone 3 is divided into two levels

Flood Zone 3A:

The the risk of flooding here is 1:100 or worse. The land in this category is described as being affected by a flood plain. Unless Flood Zone 1/2 land is seriously constrained it is unlikely that Zone 3A land will be allowed major development and small development will be difficult. Even so there are a lot of houses that already exist in flood zones 3A and 3B. If modifications (aka extensions) are planned they usually need to have an individual assessment by the Environment agency and then have to abide by the result.

Flood Zone 3B:

The category is liable to flood and forms part of the flood plain. The risk of flooding is worse than 1:30. It is unlikely that this category will get large scale development in almost all circumstances. Even these days it is unlikely that even large arrogant developers will try their luck with a 3B site.

Development Criteria

Most councils now only consider development on Flood Zone 1. There is a caveat though. They may allow development on Flood Zone 2 or (unusually) Flood Zone 3A if, (and only if) there is no suitable Flood Zone 1 land available.

Councils must perform a “sequential test” on any land allocation if it falls below Flood Zone  2. Often in the local plans this is actually set at Flood Zone 1, so if any potential development is going to be on less than a Flood Zone 1 site then it has to be proved that there is no suitable Flood Zone 1 land capable of supporting the same development.

So on the face of it, if the land is classified as other than Flood Zone 1 then any large development is going to have problems.

The first port of call to find out the flood status of any property is the Land Registry. Some years ago The Land Registry had started selling the flood status of land along with the deeds. When the author used it some years back it proved to be arbitrary and sometimes just plain wrong. Hopefully it is now improved.

If you are concerned about a proposed development and its potential affect on the surrounding area then the local Flood Zone status and local government policy should be thoroughly investigated.