Flood risk and development

Flood risk and development

Planning plays a fundamentally critical role in flood risk management.

New developments can contribute to the management of flood risk. National planning policy has a presumption in favour of sustainable development, therefore flood risk management should be taken into consideration.

To find out if you're planning applications should be accompanied by a Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) visit:

GOV.UK - Flood risk assessment for planning applications

Worcestershire County Council, as the Lead Local Flood Authority is a statutory consultee on all major planning applications with surface water drainage implications.

The Flood Risk management Team at Worcestershire County Council respond to major planning applications for the south of the county (Malvern Hills District, Worcs City and Wychavon District). North Worcestershire Water Management (NWWM) carry out this role on behalf of the Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFA) for districts in the north of the county (Wyre Forest District, Bromsgrove District and Redditch Borough).

Contact North Worcestershire Water Management

Contact Lead Local Flood Authorities

Information on the surface water drainage of the site should accompany every major planning application. It should identify how sustainable drainage system techniques (SUDs) will be used with any obstacles to their use clearly justified. This should include information on the adoption of sewerage infrastructure and arrangements for ownership and maintenance of SuDS for the lifetime of the development. Information can be found below.

The consideration of planning applications is informed by a number of national and local plans, policies and strategies, visit:

GOV.UK - National Planning Policy Framework

Development plans

Worcestershire County Council believes that Neighbourhood Plans are powerful tools to ensure the right type of development is delivered in the right place for your community. If you are planning to produce a Neighbourhood Development Plan see Neighbourhood Planning Support Service.

Flood Risk Management Consultations

Consultations launch on draft Flood Risk Management and River Basin Management plans.

The Environment Agency has launched consultations on their draft Flood Risk Management Plans and draft River Basin Management Plans.

Draft Flood Risk Management Plans

The public consultation for the draft Flood Risk Management Plans launched on 22 October 2021 and will run for three months, until 21 January 2022.

The Environment Agency has worked with Lead Local Flood Authorities and other Risk Management Authorities to produce them.

One of the draft plans focusses on the River Severn catchment and highlights Redditch as a potential flood risk area.

Draft River Basin Management Plans

The public consultation for the draft River Basin Management Plans launched on 22nd October 2021 and will run for six months, until 22nd April 2022.

The draft plans are strategic plans for protecting and improving the water environment.

Anyone who would like to give their feedback on one or more of the plans can do so on the Environment Agency’s consultation hub.

More information about the plans can be found on the Environment Agency Flood Risk Management Plans.

Surface Water Management

Surface water is rainwater (including snow and other precipitation) which:

  1. is on the surface of the ground (whether or not it is moving) and
  2. has not yet entered a watercourse, drainage system or public sewer.

Although flooding on rivers and other watercourses tends to get the most publicity the majority of flooding in Worcestershire (and across the country) is from surface water.

Causes of surface water flooding

Surface water flooding occurs when rainwater cannot soak into the ground because either it falls on ground which is already saturated, baked hard after a prolonged dry spell or hard surfaced and / or the drainage system is already full or blocked.

Surface water flooding has become more common due to the increased area of land which is hard surfaced for example new housing or business developments and block paved or tarmacked front gardens.

Managing surface water flood risk

The Flood & Water Management Act (2010) made Lead Local Flood Authorities, such as Worcestershire County Council, responsible for managing surface water flooding. Since then the Council has worked very closely with its partners and communities to:

  • Implement flood alleviation schemes.
  • Implement drainage improvement schemes.
  • Improve drainage maintenance.
  • Encourage and help individuals to protect their properties and businesses.
  • Gain a detailed record and understanding of all past flooding locations.
  • Gain a better understanding of future potential flood risk.
  • Prioritise the allocation of resources to deal with surface water flood risk.

The Council is currently finishing the production of a Surface Water Management Plan which will describe the work which has already been carried out and outline the broad approaches and specific actions which will be carried out in the future to address surface water flooding.

This plan will be published shortly.

Map of surface water flood risk

The Environment Agency has produced a map, based on computer modelling, which shows the extent of potential future flooding from surface water.

Strategic Flood Risk Assessments (SFRAs)

Strategic Flood Risk Assessments (SFRAs) have been undertaken by each of the District Councils to help inform the planning process. They provide a detailed and robust assessment of flooding, and the implications that this may have for land use planning. All of these documents are available via the links on this page.

The studies identify the sources of flooding and provide recommendations for the most suitable locations for development with regard to the level of risk. It also identifies any actions that need to be taken to support development, particularly in relation to infrastructure upgrades.

SFRAs for each district council:

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)

What are SuDS?

Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) are a natural approach to managing drainage in and around properties and other developments. This video below explains in more detail.

The Flood and Water Management Act (FWMA) delegated upper-tier and unitary authorities as Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFA) with responsibility for their respective area's Local Flood Risk Management Strategy.

Worcestershire County Council is the LLFA for Worcestershire.

This role currently relates to ordinary watercourses, surface water and groundwater flooding (fluvial flooding from main tributaries is still currently the responsibility of the Environment Agency).

On 16th April 2015 LLFAs became statutory consultees for surface water drainage on all major developments.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) fully supports the use of SuDS on major applications. And the National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) (amended April 2015) states that "when considering major development…, sustainable drainage systems should be provided unless demonstrated to be inappropriate."

Surface water run-off should be controlled as near to its source as possible through a sustainable drainage approach to surface water management (SuDS).  Ground conditions will need to be confirmed by site investigation and testing.  The Drainage Strategy (DS) for major developments will need to follow the sequential approach of source control-watercourse-sewer.

SuDS guide

Worcestershire County Council have produced a SuDS guide to help developers and planners understand what the LLFA is looking for on development sites. This guide sets out the principles of SuDS and includes detailed information on the requirements of the LLFA when a planning application is submitted.

Download SuDS guide

Adoption of SuDS

Following the decision from Government on the non-commencement of Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 Worcestershire County Council (WCC) did not become a SuDS Approving Body (SAB). WCC's current policy is to not adopt SuDS on new developments. It is therefore recommended that suitable and adequate private arrangements are put in place for the maintenance of all SuDS on the site for the lifetime of all developments.

The LLFA recommends that a planning condition relating to a SuDS management plan is attached to any grant of planning permission for major applications.

Download an example of how the management plan could look

Water Cycle Studies (WCS)

Water Cycle Studies have been commissioned by the District Councils to assess the impact of future development on the water environment and water infrastructure. They identify infrastructure and environmental capacity constraints in key centres throughout Worcestershire, in relation to suggested levels of housing and employment development.


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