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Flood fears hit South East housing plans

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One-third of new homes earmarked for the South East could be at risk from flooding unless designs are modified, the insurance industry has warned.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) fears government plans for 200,000 extra homes, including 85,000 in the Thames Gateway, do not allow for flooding or the effects of climate change.

According to the ABI report, 'Making Communities Sustainable', one-third of the new developments are located in flood plains. Of these, 10,000 are said to be at 'significant' risk.

The new homes could push up the annual costs of flooding in these areas by 74 per cent unless effective steps are taken to manage the risk, says the report.

It suggests the threat could be minimised by targeting flood-defence spending on vulnerable sites, raising living spaces and services like electrical wiring to first-floor level, and concentrating development on low-risk sites.

'Our report shows that flood risk in the growth areas could be managed effectively by building on existing government policies and plans,' said ABI director of general insurance, Nick Starling.

Planning minister Keith Hill has welcomed the report by insisting that minimising flood risk was central to the government's sustainable communities programme.

by Clive Walker

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