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Welsh Government issues planning guidance on development in flood zones

Wales has issued the UK’s toughest planning guidance on development in flood zones, which will effectively bar new homes in these areas unless strong defences are provided.

The Welsh Government’s Technical Advice Note (TAN) 15: Development, flooding and coastal erosion together with a new Flood Map for Planning introduces planning advice to inform local development plans and planning decisions. This comes into force on 1 December.

Climate change minister Julie James said it will be used by the Welsh Government, local planning authorities and developers to direct development away from areas at risk of flooding and coastal erosion. 

TAN 15 prohibits new developments of homes, emergency services, schools, hospitals and other land uses deemed ‘highly vulnerable’ in areas of high flood risk unless there are strong flood defences. 

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If a council is minded to approve any scheme against this advice, Welsh Ministers will be notified and able to call in the application.

For all other development - those in areas of low risk, in areas protected by strong flood defences and less vulnerable developments in areas at high risk - securing planning permission will still be dependent on passing the acceptability tests in TAN15. 

These include providing justifications for developing in an areas prone to flood risk, use of brownfield land and flood resilience.

TAN 15 stated that constructing new engineered defences to enable greenfield development is “not an appropriate nor a sustainable approach to addressing the flood risks we face”.

The map identifies four types of flood zone, with each having particular advice in TAN 15 for proposed developments.

Maps will be updated in May and November every year to reflect the latest modelling and data on flood risks.

Ms James said: “Flood risk and coastal erosion in Wales is increasing as a result of climate change. 

“Serious flooding events are becoming more frequent and some areas currently at little risk will become vulnerable to flooding as our climate continues to change.”

Mark Smulian

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