Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60
TUESDAY 28 NOVEMBER 2000
60. As far as the draft was concerned, I think
you had reservations that you wish this to be beefed up so that
there was this presumption against the development. Do I take
it from what you have said, you feel you are making progress with
(Dr Mance) The Minister made a statement to the Environment
Select Committee last Wednesday which was very encouraging. I
will believe it when I see the PPG finally drafted. Perhaps I
am getting old and cynical but the proof of the pudding is in
the eating and once we see the guidance then we will be confident
that we actually have it. We do want the system to put the onus
on the developer to seriously show that they are dealing with
flood risk. If it is in a flood risk area and it is unavoidable,
then they should show they are building sensible houses.
61. Have there been cases where, in fact, the
local authority has ignored your advice and granted consent? Do
you put in any special measures thereafter to ensure that the
disaster does not occur, which you may have feared?
(Dr Mance) We do seek, if the planning authority is
clearly going to go ahead against their advice, so-called mitigation
measures. We try to make sure, if possible, that the planning
authority will seek a section 106 agreement where they get either
a financial contribution or work undertaken by the developer.
In those circumstances we are dependent upon the planning authority
enforcing that. It is an agreement with the planning authority
rather than ourselves. We might then find it necessary subsequently
to undertake works ourselves using the funds we have.
62. So they put you to a cost, although they
ignored your advice?
(Dr Mance) Yes, we effectively have the public purse
subsidising the profits of a developer, which is never satisfactory.
63. Local authority searches. Do you believe
your representation or objections should be shown on that search?
(Dr Mance) We are close to agreement with the Law
Society to ensure flood risk and indeed a number of pollution
issues, are actually taken account of at conveyancing by solicitors,
in a search conducted at that point in time. I think that is the
most sensible way of dealing with it. It picks up on all properties.
Avoiding new flood risk is important. Of the planning applications
we currently see coming into system, if we analysed those and
extrapolated against 4 million new homes, it would be something
like 350,000 new properties in risk areas. That is almost another
million people living in risk areas and we do not want to see
that. But we already have 1.8 million homes in risk areas and
it is important at conveyance that they become aware that they
are in a risk area, so that they can find out about it and find
out what to do. You are not going to succeed raising awareness
64. The Highways Agency has a power to direct
a local authority to reject a planning application where it does
not comply with Highways Agency standards.
Would you not wish to have a similar power
to insist on a rejection of a particular application to a local
(Dr Mance) We have agonised over this
over the last few years. We have always come to the conclusion
65. Where has the agony ended?
(Dr Mance) We have always come to the conclusion that
we did not want to end up being the largest single planning authority
in the country. There are substantial parts of the country at
or below sea level, artificially drained and behind substantial
coastal defences. To have an NDPB such as ourselves making decisions
whether there should be any new homes or new employment opportunities
in East Anglia seems inappropriate. We believe it should be in
a democratic system. We believe the system should be required
to take due account of flood risk. For instance, we do not want
to see bungalows approved if they are going to sit behind four-metre
high flood defences. That just does not seem sane.
Chairman: Gentlemen, thank you very much indeed.
Will you give our best wishes to Mr Empson and hope that he is
better. We do not usually have that impact on people!