July 2008

An early draft of an article due to be published by the Gloucestershire Echo tomorrow.

9.30am – EXCLUSIVE – 7,800 more new homes for Gloucestershire
09:30 – 22-July-2008
Gloucestershire Echo

Gloucestershire will have to take an extra 7,800 homes, ministers announced today. A development blueprint published by the Government today confirms proposals for more than 50,000 new houses to be built in the county over the next two decades, despite warnings over flooding and the credit crunch. It would see another 7,800 homes added in Gloucestershire, bringing the total for the period 2006-2026 to 56,400.

This is despite warnings that government efforts to help the flood recovery would be “rendered worthless” if thousands of houses were built in vulnerable areas. There had also been calls for housing figures in Gloucestershire to be revised downwards because of the global economic downturn.

A 12 week public consultation now gets underway on the Government proposals for additional housing, ending on Friday October 17. It is planned to publish the final planning document before the end of the year. The proposals unveiled by the Government support those of an independent panel under which Cheltenham urban area’s total would be cut from 8,500 houses to 8,100 but Tewkesbury would see a massive hike from 10,500 to 14,600. Gloucester sees no change from 11,500, while it is proposed to increase the number of new houses in Stroud by 2,400 to 9,100. Cotswold sees a rise of from 6,000.

GLOUCESTERSHIRE ECHO Tuesday 22nd July 2008

The long awaited (take a deep breath) “Draft Revised Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West incorporating the Secretary of State’s Proposed Changes” has been published, see here, where you can also post a response. This marks the start of the 12 week consultation period (now extended to end 5pm, 24 October), although note that the consultation is only on the changes and not the whole document. Please read it if you wish, though it is very long. Mike is currently reading through it and will report the major points.

Now that it is published we will begin to construct a formal response to it, this will take some time. Also note that we will start our e-petition to object to the housing figures for this region, this should go online within the next week.

Now online. Sign our petition here

The “Save The Countryside” team ran a stand at the Winston Churchill Cultural Fun Day 2008 on Saturday 19th July. The action packed event (see the poster) attracted large crowds.

Churchill Gardens Cultural Fun Day 2008

Churchill Gardens Cultural Fun Day 2008

Many people were happy to talk to us the needed no real convincing to sign the petition, many people discussed their own planning woes such as the Glenfall development, the proposal for 200 flats near Tescos (a ridiculously high density of housing – expected to be rejected though) and other small developments.

We got over 250 signatures and more than that really spread the word beyond the village to the main town area. Many visitors to the stand already knew about us from the Gloucestershire Echo editorials and the kids definitely loved the pin the tail on the donkey (they did win a sweet so it wasn’t surprising!).

We were pleased to have Alistair Cameron help us for a time and he did a good job of pulling people in, we were also pleased to see Martin Horwood and John Webster. This was the first event with our “Save The Countryside” t-shirts, some people even wanted to buy some! We will be considering putting some up for sale.

Heres a picture of Anne chatting with some pretty concerned locals.

Anne with some concerned locals

Anne with some concerned locals

All in all a great day was had. The event was well worth going to anyway, some very impressive singing from quite young children in the STAR radio singing contest. The “Insect Man” was pretty interesting if you like seeing tarantulas, or any other unusual creepy crawlies. A big thank you to those in the “Save The Countryside” team, some who worked hard all day long, and to those who did the setup and pull down – even though they had a hangover!


Plans for a 5,000-home eco-town in Staffordshire – believed to be the largest planning application of its kind in the West Midlands for more than 50 years – have been withdrawn by developers. However, the Curborough Consortium said it remained committed to the principles behind the Government’s controversial eco-town agenda and still wants to develop the Fradley Airfield site near Lichfield. The site, on 700 acres of a disused airfield, has been earmarked by the Government as one of 10 possible eco-towns across the country – another is Long Marston in Warwickshire.

The Curborough Consortium included four companies – Redrow Homes, Hallam Land Management, Banks Developments and Gleeson Homes. It said it had withdrawn its bid after discussions with the Department of Communities and Local Government. A consortium official said: “We were delighted to have been shortlisted and have fully engaged in the eco-town process. It is with regret that we feel we must withdraw our bid, however, we remain committed to the principles behind the eco-town agenda. “We will continue to pursue our planning application for a new settlement at Curborough.”

Paul Massey has kindly provided a much more comprehensive summary of the Pitt report than the much more brief summary of main points I provided previously just after the report came out.

Summer Floods 2007 – Pitt Report



Over a period of 10 months Sir Michael Pitt and his review team examined over 1000 written submissions, consulted widely, considered the experiences of other countries and visited the communities affected by flooding. They observed at first hand extraordinary hardship and recognise that even now many thousands of families are still living in some form of temporary accommodation. Throughout, they have given priority to the interests of the victims of the floods, whether they are residents, business owners or farmers, and their report was written with them firmly in mind.

A copy of the report can be accessed at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/thepittreview. Below is a summary of the key findings from the review along with the 92 recommendations. The government will be considering the report and are due to respond by the end of the summer. Some of the recommendations are for local authorities. Officers will be considering the implications of the proposals and will come back to members in due course as to the implications and actions which Cheltenham BC now needs to take. In addition a number of recommendations fall to the County Council and to the Local Resilience Forum, and again officers from CBC will be in liaison with their appropriate counterparts.

A number of the recommendations are already being taken forward. CBC are working with the county council, other districts and partners on the multi agency flood alleviation plan which is addressing the issues of surface drainage and the county council are currently revising the flood response plan, in response to a number of these recommendations and also recommendations arising from the county scrutiny review.

Review Summary

The floods of last year caused the country’s largest peacetime emergency since World War II. The impact of climate change means that the probability of events on a similar scale happening in future is increasing. So the Review calls for urgent and fundamental changes in the way the country is adapting to the likelihood of more frequent and intense periods of heavy rainfall. They have searched for practical solutions to highly complex problems and thought carefully about the public interest. Sir Michael Pitt indicates that the recommendations are challenging and strong national leadership will be needed to make them a reality.

  1. There must be a step change in the quality of flood warnings. This can be achieved through closer cooperation between the Environment Agency and Met Office and improved modelling of all forms of flooding. The public and emergency responders must be able to rely on this information with greater certainty than last year.

  1. It is recommended that there is a wider brief for the Environment Agency and ask councils to strengthen their technical capability in order to take the lead on local flood risk management. More can be done to protect communities through robust building and planning controls.

  1. During the emergency itself, there were excellent examples of emergency services and other organisations working well together, saving lives and protecting property. However, this was not always the case; some decision making was hampered by insufficient preparation and a lack of information. Better planning and higher levels of protection for critical infrastructure are needed to avoid the loss of essential services such as water and power. There must be greater involvement of private sector companies in planning to keep people safe in the event of a dam or reservoir failure. Generally, we must be more open about risk.

  1. Learn from good experience abroad. People would benefit from better advice on how to protect their families and homes. Levels of awareness should be raised through education and publicity programmes, with recommendations on how people can stay healthy and on speeding up the whole process of recovery, giving people the earliest possible chance to get their lives back to normal.

Lessons from the 2007 Floods: what people need

Reducing the risk of flooding and its impact

Being rescued and cared for during an emergency

Maintaining power and water supplies and protecting essential services

Better advice and help for people to protect their families and homes

Staying healthy and speeding up recovery

Knowing where and when it will flood


1: Given the predicted increase in the range of future extremes of weather, the Government should give priority to both adaptation and mitigation in its programmes to help society cope with climate change.

2: The Environment Agency should be a national overview of all flood risk, including surface water and groundwater flood risk, with immediate effect.

3: The Met Office should continue to improve its forecasting and predicting methods to a level which meets the needs of emergency responders.

4: The Environment Agency should further develop its tools and techniques for predicting and modelling river flooding, taking account of extreme and multiple events and depths and velocity of water.

5: The Environment Agency should work with partners to urgently take forward work to develop tools and techniques to model surface water flooding.

6: The Environment Agency and the Met Office should work together, through a joint centre, to improve their technical capability to forecast, model and warn against all sources of flooding.

7: There should be a presumption against building in high flood risk areas, in accordance with PPS25, including giving consideration to all sources of flood risk, and ensuring that developers make a full contribution to the costs both of building and maintaining any necessary defences.

8: The operation and effectiveness of PPS25 and the Environment Agency’s powers to challenge development should be kept under review and strengthened if and when necessary.

9: Householders should no longer be able to lay impermeable surfaces as of right on front gardens and the Government should consult on extending this to back gardens and business premises.

10: The automatic right to connect surface water drainage of new developments to the sewerage system should be removed.

11: Building Regulations should be revised to ensure that all new or refurbished buildings in high flood-risk areas are flood resistant or resilient.

12: All local authorities should extend eligibility for home improvement grants and loans to include flood resistance and resilience products for properties in high flood-risk areas.

13: Local authorities, in discharging their responsibilities under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 to promote business continuity, should encourage the take-up of property flood resistance and resilience by businesses.

14: Local authorities should lead on the management of local flood risk, with the support of the relevant organisations.

15: Local authorities should positively tackle local problems of flooding by working with all relevant parties, establishing ownership and legal responsibility.

16: Local authorities should collate and map the main flood risk management and drainage assets (over and underground), including a record of their ownership and condition.

17: All relevant organisations should have a duty to share information and cooperate with local authorities and the Environment Agency to facilitate the management of flood risk.

18: Local Surface Water Management Plans, as set out under PPS25 and coordinated by local authorities, should provide the basis for managing all local flood risk.

19: Local authorities should assess and, if appropriate, enhance their technical capabilities to deliver a wide range of responsibilities in relation to local flood risk management.

20: The Government should resolve the issue of which organisations should be responsible for the ownership and maintenance of sustainable drainage systems.

21: Defra should work with Ofwat and the water industry to explore how appropriate risk-based standards for public sewerage systems can be achieved.

22: As part of the forthcoming and subsequent water industry pricing reviews, Ofwat should give appropriate priority to proposals for investment in the existing sewerage network to deal with increasing flood risk.

23: The Government should commit to a strategic long-term approach to its investment in flood risk management, planning up to 25 years ahead.

24: The Government should develop a scheme which allows and encourages local communities to invest in flood risk management measures.

25: The Environment Agency should maintain its existing riskbased approach to levels of maintenance and this should be supported by published schedules of works for each local authority area.

26: The Government should develop a single set of guidance for local authorities and the public on the use and usefulness of sandbags and other alternatives, rather than leaving the matter wholly to local discretion.

27: Defra, the Environment Agency and Natural England should work with partners to establish a programme through Catchment Flood Management Plans and Shoreline Management Plans to achieve greater working with natural processes.

28: The forthcoming flooding legislation should be a single unifying Act that addresses all sources of flooding, clarifies responsibilities and facilitates flood risk management.

29: The Government and the insurance industry should work together to deliver a public education programme setting out the benefits of insurance in the context of flooding.

30: The Government should review and update the guidance Insurance for all: A good practice guide for providers of social housing and disseminate it effectively to support the creation of insurance with rent schemes for low income households.

31: In flood risk areas, insurance notices should include information on flood risk and the simple steps that can be taken to mitigate the effects.

32: The insurance industry should develop and implement industry guidance for flooding events, covering reasonable expectations of the performance of insurers and reasonable actions by customers.

33: The Environment Agency should provide a specialised site-specific flood warning service for infrastructure operators, offering longer lead times and greater levels of detail about the velocity and depth of flooding.

34: The Met Office and the Environment Agency should issue warnings against a lower threshold of probability to increase preparation lead times for emergency responders.

35: The Met Office and Environment Agency should issue joint warnings and impact information on severe weather and flooding emergencies to responder organisationsand the public.

36: The Environment Agency should make relevant flood visualisation data, held in electronic map format, available online to Gold and Silver Commands.

37: The Environment Agency should work with its partners to progressively develop and bring into use flood visualisation tools that are designed to meet the needs of flood-risk managers, emergency planners and responders.

38: Local authorities should establish mutual aid agreements in accordance with the guidance currently being prepared by the Local Government Association and the Cabinet Office.

39: The Government should urgently put in place a fully funded national capability for flood rescue with Fire and Rescue Authorities playing a leading role, underpinned as necessary by a statutory duty.

40: Defra should amend emergency regulations to increase the minimum amount of water to be provided in an emergency, in order to reflect reasonable needs during a longer-term loss of mains supply.

41: Upper tier local authorities should be the lead responders in relation to multi-agency planning for severe weather emergencies at the local level and for triggering multi-agency arrangements in response to severe weather warnings and local impact assessments.

42: Where a Gold Command is established for severe weather events, the police, unless agreed otherwise locally, should convene and lead the multi-agency response.

43: Gold Commands should be established at an early stage on a precautionary basis where there is a risk of serious flooding.

44: Category 1 and 2 responders should assess the effectiveness of their emergency response facilities, including flexible accommodation, IT and communications systems, and undertake any necessary improvement works.

45: The Highways Agency, working through Local Resilience Forums, should further consider the vulnerability of motorways and trunk roads to flooding, the potential for better warnings, strategic road clearance to avoid people becoming stranded and plans to support people who become stranded.

46: The rail industry, working through Local Resilience Forums, should develop plans to provide emergency welfare support to passengers stranded on the rail network.

47: The Ministry of Defence should identify a small number of trained Armed Forces personnel who can be deployed to advise Gold Commands on logistics during wide-area civil emergencies and, working with Cabinet Office, identify a suitable mechanism for deployment.

48: Central government crisis machinery should always be activated if significant wide-area and high-impact flooding is expected or occurs.

49: A national flooding exercise should take place at the earliest opportunity in order to test the new arrangements which central government departments are putting into place to deal with flooding and infrastructure emergencies.

50: The Government should urgently begin its systematic programme to reduce the disruption of essential services resulting from natural hazards by publishing a national framework and policy statement setting out the process, timescales and expectations.

51: Relevant government departments and the Environment Agency should work with infrastructure operators to identify the vulnerability and risk of assets to flooding and a summary of the analysis should be published in Sector Resilience Plans.

52: In the short term, the Government and infrastructure operators should work together to build a level of resilience into critical infrastructure assets that ensures continuity during a worst-case flood event.

53: A specific duty should be placed on economic regulators to build resilience in the critical infrastructure.

54: The Government should extend the duty to undertake business continuity planning to infrastructure operating Category 2 responders to a standard equivalent to BS25999, and that accountability is ensured through an annual benchmarking exercise within each sector.

55: The Government should strengthen and enforce the duty on Category 2 responders to share information on the risks to their infrastructure assets, enabling more effective emergency planning within Local Resilience Forums.

56: The Government should issue clear guidance on expected levels of Category 2 responders’ engagement in planning, exercising and response and consider the case for strengthening enforcement arrangements.

57: The Government should provide Local Resilience Forums with the inundation maps for both large and small reservoirs to enable them to assess risks and plan for contingency, warning and evacuation and the outline maps be made available to the public online as part of wider flood risk information.

58: The Government should implement the legislative changes proposed in the Environment Agency biennial report on dam and reservoir safety through the forthcoming flooding legislation.

59: The Risk and Regulation Advisory Council should explore how the public can improve their understanding of community risks, including those associated with flooding, and that the Government should then implement the findings as appropriate.

60: The Government should implement a public information campaign which draws on a single definitive set of flood prevention and mitigation advice for householders and businesses, and which can be used by media and the authorities locally and nationally.

61: The Environment Agency should work with local responders to raise awareness in flood risk areas and identify a range of mechanisms to warn the public, particularly the vulnerable, in response to flooding.

62: The Environment Agency should work urgently with telecommunications companies to facilitate the roll-out of opt-out telephone flood warning schemes to all homes and businesses liable to flooding, including those with ex-directory numbers.

63: Flood risk should be made part of the mandatory search requirements when people buy property, and should form part of Home Information Packs.

64: Local Resilience Forums should continue to develop plans for door-knocking, coordinated by local authorities, to enhance flood warnings before flooding and to provide information and assess welfare needs once flooding has receded.

65: The Met Office and Environment Agency should urgently complete the production of a sliding scale of options for greater personalisation of public warning information, including costs, benefits and feasibility.

66: Local authority contact centres should take the lead in dealing with general enquiries from the public during and after major flooding, redirecting calls to other organisations when appropriate.

67: The Cabinet Office should provide advice to ensure that all Local Resilience Forums have effective and linked websites providing public information before, during and after an emergency.

68: Council leaders and chief executives should play a prominent role in public reassurance and advice through the local media during a flooding emergency, as part of a coordinated effort overseen by Gold Commanders.

69: The public should make up a flood kit – including personal documents, insurance policy, emergency contact numbers (including local council, emergency services and Floodline), torch, battery or wind-up radio, mobile phone, rubber gloves, wet wipes or antibacterial hand gel, first aid kit and blankets.

70: The Government should establish a programme to support and encourage individuals and communities to be better prepared and more self-reliant during emergencies, allowing the authorities to focus on those areas and people in greatest need.

71: The Department of Health and other relevant bodies should develop a single set of flood related health advice for householders and businesses which should be used by all organisations nationally and locally and made available through a wide range of sources.

72: Local response and recovery coordinating groups should ensure that health and wellbeing support is readily available to those affected by flooding based on the advice developed by the Department of Health.

73: The Government, the Association of British Insurers and other relevant organisations should work together to explore any technological or process improvements that can be made to speed up the drying out and stabilising process of building recovery after a flood.

74: The monitoring of the impact of flooding on the health and wellbeing of people, and actions to mitigate and manage the effects, should form a systematic part of the work of Recovery Coordinating Groups.

75: For emergencies spanning more than a single local authority area, Government Offices should ensure coherence and coordination, if necessary, between recovery operations.

76: Local authorities should coordinate a systematic programme of community engagement in their area during the recovery phase.

77: National and local Recovery Co-ordinating Groups should be established from the outset of major emergencies and in due course there should be formal handover from the crisis machinery.

78: Aims and objectives for the recovery phase should be agreed at the outset by Recovery Coordinating Groups to provide focus and enable orderly transition into mainstream programmes when multi-agency coordination of recovery is no longer required.

79: Government Offices, in conjunction with the Local Government Association, should develop arrangements to provide advice and support from experienced organisations to areas dealing with recovery from severe flooding emergencies.

80: All central government guidance should be updated to reflect the new arrangements for recovery and Local Resilience Forums should plan, train and exercise on this basis.

81: There should be an agreed framework, including definitions and timescales, for local central recovery reporting.

82: Following major flooding events, the Government should publish monthly summaries of progress of the recovery phase, including the numbers of households still displaced from all or part of their homes.

83: Local authorities should continue to make arrangements to bear the cost of recovery for all but the most exceptional emergencies, and should revisit their reserves and insurance arrangements in light of last summer’s floods.

84: Central government should have pre-planned rather than ad-hoc arrangements to contribute towards the financial burden of recovery from the most exceptional emergencies, on a formula basis.

85: Local Recovery Coordination Groups should make early recommendations to elected local authority members about longer-term regeneration and economic development opportunities.

86: The Government should publish an action plan to implement the recommendations of this Review, with a Director in Defra overseeing the programme of delivery and issuing regular progress updates.

87: The Government should establish a Cabinet Committee with a remit to improve the country’s ability to deal with flooding and implement the recommendations of this Review.

88: The Government should establish a National Resilience Forum to facilitate national level multi-agency planning for flooding and other emergencies.

89: The EFRA Select Committee should review the country’s readiness for dealing with flooding emergencies and produce an assessment of progress in implementation of the Review’s recommendations after 12 months.

90: All upper tier local authorities should establish Oversight and Scrutiny Committees to review work by public sector bodies and essential service providers in order to manage flood risk, underpinned by a legal requirement to cooperate and share information.

91: Each Oversight and Scrutiny Committee should prepare an annual summary of actions taken locally to manage flood risk and implement this Review, and these reports should be public and reviewed by Government Offices and the Environment Agency.

92: Local Resilience Forums should evaluate and share lessons from both the response and recovery phases to inform their planning for future emergencies.

For further information contact: Jane Griffiths, Assistant Chief Executive on 01242 264126.

[3 July 2008 ]