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The recent floods in the UK over Christmas and New Year highlight once again the importance of understanding how a development site may be affected by local weather conditions in the long term. In December 2015 Honister Pass in Cumbria saw the UK's 24-hour rainfall record broken, with 341.1mm of rainfall. The 48-hour record was also broken, in Thirlmere – again in Cumbria – where 405 mm fell.

The UK has always contended with high rainfall, but in the coming years climate change may well bring more extreme downpours – and new challenges for developers.

Heavy flooding can damage property and livelihoods, and in extreme cases can put lives at risk.

Choosing a safe site for a housing project

When a developer chooses a site for a new housing project, the risk of flooding is a key consideration. With increasing rainfall across the country, selecting the right location is more important than ever.

A thorough risk assessment of a potential housing site must be carried out before design and construction can begin. This highlights flooding risks along with a vast range of threats to a property or its future inhabitants.

Everything from suitability of proposed building materials to risks posed by historical mining activities are considered. In terms of floodwater risk, subsurface conditions and ground water issues are analysed, along with topographical considerations and any threats posed by possible natural catastrophes. In this latter area, extreme flooding tends to be a prime issue – at least in the UK construction industry.

A thorough risk assessment will identify threats relating to the following topics:

  • Construction
  • Financial and economic
  • Performance
  • Security
  • Contractual and legal
  • Physical
  • Political and societal

Minimising flood risk to a site

For greenfield sites, how local rainfall may affect a new project is of prime importance. A safer outcome may arise from choosing a brownfield site (urban land once used for industrial or commercial purposes), or by redeveloping existing buildings. Flood risks in these areas may be better understood, and may be more accurately evaluated.

Sustainable developments

Selecting a brownfield site or redeveloping an existing residential site may also be a more sustainable option, and could also bring cost benefits.

Iceni's risk assessments

Iceni Homes carries out a full risk assessment every time a potential project site comes under consideration. This thorough report underpins the safety and wellbeing of the site's workers, as well as future residents and users, and identifies any constriction or commercial considerations for stakeholders.

Discover more about Iceni's proven ability to identify suitable development sites, underpinned by industry-leading risk assessments.