Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Planners and Architects Must Learn Lessons from the Floods; in the Wake of the Recent Flooding, Architect Neil Turner Looks at Ways of Designing and Protecting New and Existing Homes

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Planners and Architects Must Learn Lessons from the Floods; in the Wake of the Recent Flooding, Architect Neil Turner Looks at Ways of Designing and Protecting New and Existing Homes

Article excerpt

OVER the past couple of months we have experienced unseasonably warm weather for the time of year, with many parts of the country, including Corbridge, Carlisle and other parts of Cumbria plus York and Tadcaster suffering from huge amounts of rainfall which lead to severe flooding.

The increase in regularity of these adverse conditions should make us think again about how we both protect existing housing stock and how we build safe new houses in the future.

We need to design to defend. It may sound like something King Arthur might have said but we architects are being asked to give greater consideration to storm and flood defence in the design of our buildings.

Clearly, when considering protection, it is much easier to do when it comes to constructing a new house and/or a housing estate.

When assessing a new site house builders have to contemplate a huge range of scenarios. Typically, these relate to how best to both drain the land and protect new homes.

Some of our European neighbours have been overcoming these challenges for years.

For example, countries such as the Netherlands have led the way going so far as designing floating houses and building blocks of flats on jetties, such as the Silodam apartment block in Amsterdam Harbour. Alternatively, houses can be built on stilts. I have seen one-off houses where parking has been created underneath.

These ideas may sound radical, but I believe this is something we might need to do if we are to build close to rivers.

I also believe it is time for planning laws to be changed in order to give greater protection to new developments. In the past, I've experienced local planners being reluctant to accept certain protections for aesthetic reasons. Tell that to the home owner whose worldly goods have been ruined by flood water and sewerage!

We also need to look at protecting existing homes With the recent floods affecting thousands of homes, clearly many councils will be looking at their overall plans and defences to protect areas as a whole and we need both the Environment Agency and Central Government to support local authorities in their planning. …

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