OXFORDSHIRE’S planning bodies have shrugged off claims they are putting thousands of homes across the county at risk by building on floodplains.
Scenes echoing 2007’s damaging downpours played out last month across the county as riverbanks burst, leading critics to point at badly planned housing developments.
The deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council Rodney Rose, right, told the Oxford Mail: “District councils with planning committees need to look long and hard about building on or near flood plains. They really do have to think about what they are doing and make sure they are looking into sustainable drainage.
“That is critical. For major plots they need to be thinking about what will happen if they concrete over flood plains.”
His calls were backed by former county council emergency planner John Kelly who said: “Flooding will never be solved with the poor planning decisions of concrete wastelands in the past such as those off the Botley Road.
“We are however, likely to see a displacement of the Woodeaton/Earlsfield floods, when the new Barton extension is completed.”
Councils have rebuffed the criticism.
West Oxfordshire District Council planning portfolio holder Warwick Robinson said potential risks were always identified well beforehand.
He said: “Rodney is merely emphasising what are already our policies and I always welcome his positive imput into WODC’s plans. Liason with OCC is a key part of our operation.
“You will find that full consideration of flood risk on any site scheduled for development is a key policy within the Local Plan.”
Michael Gibbard, Cherwell District Council cabinet member for planning said: “I can assure Rodney Rose that any planning applications determined by Cherwell District Council have the benefit of full consultation with responsible authorities, including the Environment Agency and Oxfordshire County Council.
“Developers submitting planning applications in or near a perceived flood plain are required to produce a site Flood Risk Assessment (FRA). As the planning authority, we are obliged to consult with the Environment Agency on the adequacy of the assessment and of any preventative measures that might be proposed.
“The county council is also consulted on these sustainability measures.”
The South Oxfordshire County Council portfolio holder Angie Paterson did not respond. However, a spokesman for the group, Andy Roberts said it only allowed development in areas at risk of flooding where mitigation proposals were in place.
He added that developers were also required to demonstrate surface water management and the Environment Agency and county council were consulted on this.
Oxford City Council said it was the only Oxfordshire planning authority of the four with an adopted Core Strategy housing plan which meant proposals would be binned unless they could prove the drainage systems would work.