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Thread: Massive flooding and a housing crises

  1. #1
    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    Massive flooding and a housing crises

    So the shit has FINALLY hit the fan... half of southern England is submerged, okay well not half. But its a lot. A spring tide, unprecedented rainfall and heavy rainfall means a lot of Gloucestershire is pretty wet right now, and with Hull, Sehffield and Yorkshire under as much as 8 foot a few weeks ago and bits off the South East constantly under risk... well its actually pretty bad.

    Of course, i laugh at all the newsreaders standing in a puddle and going 'Here I am in flooded Dingley, where the High Street is submerged in two feet of water”, two whole feet? Oh my god abandon the country! But there is a seriously issues given the sheer size of the area affected. It not dramatic mudslides and torrents, but it is massive areas that seem to be increasing that are being inundated with flood water, over 350,000 people are effected in Gloucestershire alone, add on the localised flooding nationwide and those people in the northern floods, and well over a couple of million people must have been effected.

    I noticed the new planning minister last night talking about how, the responsibility for Flood Risk Assessments is on the local Authority... what a surprise another burden neatly placed upon LA's, and of course they will have to balance the need for an entire two million homes over the next 20 years. Erm... how?

    Along with Holland, Japan, Malaysia, bits of Germany and Bangladesh, the UK, but England and specifically southern England and the Midlands is pretty much one of the most densely populated places on the planet. How we have managed to maintain so much green space and countryside is a miracle... actually no, its one thing the planning system can clearly take the credit for.

    I am very happy the housing problem is finally after all these coming to the fore. It really is about time. Given that the price of the average house can be 8-10 times the average salary (in sunny Bristol its between 6-8).

    So where can it all go? What about infrastructure, especially transport, what the hell do we do about flooding, and how do we manage such a high population density, without destroying what we love, our countryside, whilst accepting that brits like houses with gardens, not flats with balconies?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Are the older UK urban areas characterized by poor stormwater engineering? Is there a planning effort to retrofit failing systems?

  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    But will 100 or 500 year flooding really be the spark and lights a flame under the regulators in Britain to allow for more "free market" development of housing?

    hill....The levels of rain that produce such flooding would be hard for even the most modern and extensive storwater management system to cope with.

    Looks like Texas must e trying to export their weather to southern England.

    Quote Originally posted by b3nr
    So where can it all go? What about infrastructure, especially transport, what the hell do we do about flooding, and how do we manage such a high population density, without destroying what we love, our countryside, whilst accepting that brits like houses with gardens, not flats with balconies?
    Well, I don't know. It seems that maybe a cultural shift needs to happen. Perphaps allow for flat building with interior courts for gardens to be communally shared by the occupants. Maybe double (or stacked) townhouses that provide small garden spaces for each unit. Maybe 4 story rowhouses.

    As for transport, at least you guys have a good head start (pretty good local, regional, and super regional transport network)

    Good luck.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  4. #4
         
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    There needs to be a shift in mentality of the British public, and a willingness on behalf of the volume housebuilders to 'push' homebuyers into accepting that high density apartments are necessary and desirable places to live.

    How do we go about doing that? Well, the surge in city centre living seems to me to show that its happening now, to a degree. Unfortunately large swathes of the housing market are still excluded from city centre living (i.e. families & elderly), and its these segments of the market that are more often than not demanding the detached 4-bed excutive homes in lovely countryside/edge of city locations.

    Of course the other problem here is that many of our cities and towns are built on rivers, and their associated floodplains...

    If I knew the answers to the questions posed I'm sure I wouldn't be where I am now

    For a start they could put balconies on schemes that are larger than a postage stamp. An increase in 3 or 4-bed apartments within schemes? A return to back-to-backs...? Failing that we should implement a Logan's Run type society.

  5. #5
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HarryFossettsHat View post
    An increase in 3 or 4-bed apartments within schemes?
    That's also something that needs to happen here in the US. Specifically, here in metro Chicago, we have alot of new low-rise, mid-rise, and high-rise developments happening, but many of the individual units are not be programmed to accommodate "family" size units. Family size (in my opinion) would be 2-3 bedrooms, a separate comfortable (12ftx12ft at least) living room and dining room, ea-in kitchen, and possibly a den or sitting area. This would be in units sized 1,100-1,400 sqft. But instead, we get 2 bed units that are barely 900 sqft and the kitchen, dining room, and living room are all crammed together in a poorly laid-out "open" 15ftx15ft room.

    So, our choices become - a 2,800 sqft 3 bed house on a 10,000 sqft lot or a 2 bed apartment at 900 sqft and not enough space for 3 humans to live togther comfortably.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    I think the location of buildings and the dire need for more supply are not entirely the same. There is plenty of non-flood prone land in the UK.

    The former is a public infrastructure/engineering issue and the latter is largely a regulatory/NIMBY issue.

    Despite all the talk, the current governmetn seems oriented toward allowing new tracts of land to be developed (which, in the UK, is not entirely wrong) but surely a lot of the new supply should come from "densification".

    Poor transport choices/quality of life crime repression of course militate against further density, as does the British dream of "every family in a semi with a garden".
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  7. #7
         
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    On a related topical note, anyone taken the time to have a scan of the Housing Green Paper issued on Monday? I'd like to say I have but I haven't had time yet.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    Despite all the talk, the current governmetn seems oriented toward allowing new tracts of land to be developed (which, in the UK, is not entirely wrong) but surely a lot of the new supply should come from "densification".
    Thats what they are trying to do here in Sydney- new metro plan aims to have like 75% of additional dwellings within established urban areas.
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

  9. #9
    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    Tis an interesting time to be involved in planning, that's for certain.

    Overnight Oxford and Bedford flooded, and around 350,000 people lost tap water. As has been said, its not a dramatic category 5 hurriciance like disaster, its just a lot of constant rain for about a month or two which has flooded a large section of the country, first in the north and now in the south. I do actually think this will have long term effects on policy and where development is placed, in Wales the Environment Agencies equivalent has proposed avoiding the 1 in a 1000 year flood areas! And this shift comes at the same time a 20-year-in-the making housing shortage becomes a big issue.

    Harry your right of course, i think of the 1000+ homes flats into the Harbourside here, high quality flats and apartments are being built and bought, but these are out of the price range of most and their infill, inner city suburban counterparts are cramped, ugly and unpopular, but everyone needs a roof so they sell anyway.

    When conducting areas of search for development, in most places it it of course possible to avoid flood plains, but then you superimpose nature and landscape designations etc etc ad nauseam, and your very commonly left with next to no areas to build on and then there's not just the NIMBY factor but a general BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Never At all) effect. The British (and especially the English) obsess over the countryside (can't blame us, it is nice).

    A few months ago did some public consultation work for a county town authority. We consulted a lot of people, including visiting schools and youth clubs, even amongst the younger people, who are about to join the great houseshare generation, the single most common comment “was keep xcountrytown a TOWN, not make it into a city!”. That surprised me a bit.

    Its feels to me that Local authorities don't really have many incentives to encourage growth, they have to service it and live with the legacy, with not much increased income, and politically and legally don't seem to have to power to either stop bad development or allow good development when its unpopular. Perversely most rural authorities are over supplying according to regional house numbers, but then for semi rural and rural authorities these are set way to low anyway.

    Maybe I have the complete wrong of the stick, but these sorts of thoughts seem to come out with colleagues, reactions to the headlines about housing shortages seem result in the planners i know going 'yeah duh'. So what to do, the 'British dream' of a semi with a garden, hah, thats old world low aspirations for you!

    A return to Victorian streets is what we need? High ceilings, spacious rooms with thick walls at a high density of about 40-50 dph. In fact when i read about American 'New Urbanism', its sounds pretty much like these areas which were built about 120 years ago... Denser, but I want a Garden damn it!

  10. #10
         
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    Quote Originally posted by b3nr View post
    I want a Garden damn it!

    I'd be happy with a backyard right now...

    Yours etc

    back-to-back dweller.

    seriously though, I'd prefer to have an edge of city centre/inner city back-to-back than a flat in the city centre right now. High ceilings and plenty of light, only there's the stigma attached now due to the Victorian back-to-backs, and the perceived inner-city, rundown image they have. It doesn't need to be like that! Oh for someone to have the b*ll*cks to do something about it. Also, mentioned right back in the first post, the Netherlands is a country I look at enviously in terms of their approach to housing provision and design.

    b3nr - you seen the plans/artists impressions for Park Hill?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Everybody wants a garden and a compact, walkable town/city with sufficient dnesity to support a vibrant retail/cultural offering, eating like a pig while staying slim, screwing a million lasses withotu getting and STD, buy lots of impulse stuff and have a solid credit record

    It ain't happening.

    Only way housing in the SE is ever goign to be affordable is to build multi-story. Apartments don't have gardens....
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  12. #12
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    I'm just curious as to whether any new planning regs or building initiatives came about as a result of last summer's flooding. Would be interesting to hear an update on this.
    To expand on the last few posts, an apartment with a garden isn't too farfetched a reality with modern construction methods and off-the-shelf green roof components. Extra-wide balconys on the south side of a building with enough floor-to-floor height to ensure adequate sunlight access, and it could be quite successful! Granted, a garden in the sky doesn't feel the same as one on the ground, but its a decent facsimile!
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  13. #13
    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    I doubt it will surprise to you find as far as I am aware the answer is no. The existing legislation prohibited building on flood plains anyway, it was a case of these issues not being properly considered in the wider process (imho). There were thousands of houses which already had permission in areas which were badly effected by the flooding last year, and are being built right now. It made for some interesting headlines in both local and national press (Daily Mail ran a front page on it). We've had more flooding this month (in fact today was the first time i'd seen the sun in 7 days... it hurts my eyeses!).

    The rules were tightened, but essentially its up to local authorities to carry out flood risk assessments. When you look at competing issues of flooding, areas of landscape protection, areas of nature conservation, areas of green belt, areas not accessible or requiring significant infrastructure... there really are not too many places you can build. I did some work for a rural county in my last job looking at the capacity for growth in their country towns. The areas that weren't too badly affected by flooding, nature or landscape, were inevitably political hot potatoes and subject to pressure from local people against development. That's before you even bothered to look at the detailed infrastructure requirements.

    Meanwhile pressure mounts on urban areas and brownfield land Where often very small and low quality flats are built very cheaply without car parking, meaning local streets become car parks. This is done in the name of 'sustainability', but of course its not ownership that's the problem but, use. Essentially its just so the developer can cram even more units on the site (60-100 dph is not uncommon).

    Basically the countries just too damn crowded. And Brits are obsessed with the countryside.

  14. #14
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    I'm with you b2nr.

    I recently submitted in application in the New Romney area. It was for the removal of a dilapidated bungalow and replacing it with a slightly larger building (admittedly, quite a bit larger as regards floor area). I was requested to provide a flood risk assessment, which on the face of it is ridiculous considering the 'like for like' nature of the scheme. This is what I submitted and it seems to have been accepted so far.

    Flood Risk Assessment

    A Flood Risk Assessment is required, however, the guidance makes it clear that this should
    be in scale with the nature of the proposal and its location (E3 of PPS25). In this case the
    scheme is for a single dwelling. It occupies previously developed land and in that sense
    makes no additional impact on flood storage capacity than currently exists. In this context it
    is appropriate to deal with the issues in Annex E of PPS25 in a way that reflects the scale
    and character of the development proposed and its location. Importantly, the proposals are
    for a development footprint that is no different in area to the existing built development.
    Other material considerations:

    • It is accepted that the proposal is within a coastal flood zone (see attached plan).
    The scheme has therefore been designed to mitigate this risk as far as is
    practicable given the ‘in principle’ support for a dwelling in this location.

    • Paragraph 25 of PPS25 – states that LPAs are required to consult the Environment
    Agency on all applications for development in flood risk areas, except for minor
    development. It is arguably the case that since the site is within the built up area
    and relates to a replacement dwelling, this is a minor scheme which does not
    require a full FRA.

    • E2 of PPS25 – Suggests that any person proposing a development must consider
    whether that development will not add to and should where practical reduce flood
    risk. In this case the site is subject to tidal flooding. The hard surfaces and
    previously developed character of the site would not alter the flood storage capacity
    of the settlement or its immediate environs.

    • The site is on previously developed land within a settlement.

    • If there is a residual risk the fact that most of the sleeping accommodation is at first
    floor level, will be sufficient mitigation and complies with the precautionary principle.

    • The proposal is two storey dwelling which gives it a degree of "protection by design"
    against flooding, greater than the existing dwelling which is a single storey dwelling.
    The proposal results in a positive enhancement in relation to flood risk.

    • Adjacent new builds have not required a fully detailed flood risk assessment. On
    balance, this assessment is considered sufficient to meet policy requirements given
    the circumstances of the type of flooding.

    What does annoy me is that the unknowing ‘self-planner’ may roll over and stump up around £2,000 for a pointless flood risk assessment.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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