PRESS RELEASE

Plans for 25,000 new houses set to increase flash flood risk to existing homes

  • New report reveals the building of as many as 25,550 new houses could put extreme pressure on England’s already stretched drainage systems, increasing chances of surface water flooding 
  • LV= has joined forces with interior designer Gaby Blackman and Flooding Expert Dr Jess Neumann to design a ‘Flood-Proof Home of the Future’
  • New home features amphibious foundations that allow it to float like a boat, as well as a built-in escape route 
  • Home designed to draw attention to the country’s flooding problem by showcasing the extreme measures that may be needed to protect homes in future
  • Flood claims where drains were unable to cope increased by 211% in the last four years

A new report out today commissioned by LV= General Insurance (LV= GI), one of the largest home insurers in the UK, and independent think tank Localis, has revealed that as many as 25,550 new homes are set to be built in areas that are already highly urbanised or where more than one percent of homes are already at risk of flooding, increasing chances of flash floods.

The report looks to examine how the rising issue of surface water flooding is being managed in England and where extreme pressure is being placed on existing houses, increasing their surface water flooding risk.

Research shows planning permission has been requested for the building of 35,282 homes in minor developments containing between 1-9 homes in areas already at risk of flooding. Given the fact approval for these types of development was granted in 73% of cases in England over the same period, as many as 25,550 new homes may have been accepted, without any obligation to demonstrate the impact on surface water drainage in the local area. This could significantly increase the chances of surface water flooding, as a result of the extra pressure new homes will put on already stretched drainage systems.

The report finds that while the building of these homes is subject to flood impact assessments for the development itself, there is no legal requirement to have a drainage strategy in place. This is different to larger developments of over nine homes, which legally require this due diligence before planning is accepted.

Looking to the future

Off the back of the report, and to help draw attention to the impact flooding is set to have on the country over the next 50 years, LV= has partnered with interior designer Gaby Blackman and Flooding Expert Dr Jess Neumann to design a ‘Flood-Proof Home of the Future’. 

The house has been designed to draw attention to the issue of flooding by showcasing the extreme measures that may be needed to protect homes in future, and includes the following features.

  • Buoyant foundations that allow the house to rest on the ground under normal circumstances, but mean it can rise up and float like a boat during a flood
  • An in-built underground drainage network that carries away excess water
  • A rooftop garden planted with water absorbing plants like ferns, with capability for excess rainwater to be safely stored and redirected back to the house’s underground drainage network
  • A U-shaped garage roof designed to help capture water during periods of intense rainfall, which can then be diverted or stored for future use
  • A stepped garden built with permeable materials and water absorbing plants, as well as water sensors at each level that inform the homeowner of the proximity of water to the house
  • Flood-proof barriers linked to water detecting sensors placed around the perimeter of the garden, which automatically rise from the ground when water is detected
  • A built in escape route on the outside of the property with inflatable raft, that allows people to evacuate safely in the event of extreme floods

    Walls and floors made from flood-proof materials like masonry plus all power supplies placed above potential flooding zones. Blinds used throughout instead of curtains, as easier to move out of the way of flooding

  • Interior walls made flood proof by a horizontal break half way up the wall, that prevents water from travelling further up
  • A kitchen placed at the top of the house to protect the room with the most valuable contents from water damage

Bringing the issue to the surface

New data from LV= GI shows flooding claims from drains being unable to cope increased by 211% between 2017- 2021. In addition, of all flooding claims managed by the insurer, drains unable to cope represents 57% of claims, with the average cost per claim standing at £32,000.

According to existing data, the amount of rain from extremely wet days has increased by 17%[1], adding significantly more pressure on infrastructure such as drainage systems. In England alone, some 5.4 million homes – one-in-six – are already at risk of flooding, with the majority of them particularly susceptible to surface water flooding.[2]

Consumer research from LV= reveals 74% of homeowners are worried about the impact flooding will have on the UK in the next 50 years. In addition, 60% have concerns about how future generations will cope with increased flooding and 28% are worried their home will flood this winter. Research also reveals almost a third (32%) of homeowners are worried where they live could become uninhabitable in the future due to flooding.

Martin Milliner, Claims Director at LV= General Insurance says: “As an insurer we see first-hand the very real and devastating impact flooding has on people’s lives. While we know the building of more homes is necessary to combat the housing crisis, the country is becoming less resilient to more extreme weather, and we must look at the future impacts this will have on our homes. The report highlights significant issues that continue to put an ever-increasing number of communities at risk, and it’s crucial property developers, insurers and local authorities work together to tackle this important issue.”

“With the creation of our Flood-Proof Home of the Future we want to draw attention to the impact flooding could have on this country in 50 years, by showcasing the extreme features homes of the future may need to have to guard against flood risk. Clearly, the installation of such sophisticated flood proofing is practically and financially out of the question for most homeowners, so it’s more important than ever we work to combat the problem before such extreme measures become necessary.”

Off the back of the report a number of policy recommendations for the government have been developed between Localis and LV= GI to help better tackle the issue of surface water flooding. Full recommendations can be viewed here.

Dr Jess Neumann, Flooding Expert, says: “In the not too distant future the public may find themselves needing to go to more and more radical lengths to protect their homes, livelihoods and loved ones from the potentially devastating impacts of flooding. The homes of the future could well require features such as underground drainage networks, built in flood defences and even amphibious foundations to withstand the levels of flooding we could see in 50 years.”

 

[1] UKCP18-Overview-report.pdf (metoffice.gov.uk)

[2] National Audit Office (2014) – Strategic flood risk management

Consumer research conducted by 3gem, 2,000 homeowners surveyed in November 2022

For further information please contact: [email protected]