Indian summer or more rain? Peter French discusses

Written by Peter French.

While this is being written we are experiencing our hottest temperatures of the year. But perhaps stating the obvious, this summer we have seen more rain than most years with June being the wettest on record and July being close.

There has been an awful lot of water around and many people have been flooded in the rest of theUK. 

Believe it or not, this is not the wettest summer on record, that goes to summer 1816 where it rained nearly continuously for 142 days. So perhaps we should consider ourselves fortunate.

All this rain does raise questions over flooding and in the last 10-15 years there have been a number of significant flood events across the country. We only have to think ofCumbria, Boscastle andTewkesburyto see the damage and disruption that flooding can cause to people’s lives, properties and businesses.

As a consequence of this flooding, legislation is now in place which affects what you can and cannot build, be it either a new property or extending an existing property. This legislation states you need to ensure that you will not be adversely affected by various flood sources, including rivers, the sea, groundwater and drainage; and that you will not affect anyone else through your development.

As designers, we work to the specified events which are considered possible to occur in the lifetime of a building, so we look at rainfall events, such as the 1 in 100 year event, which is a rainstorm which has the likelihood of occurring once in 100 years.  We then add on a factor for climate change and design building and plot drainage for that occurrence. 

As this is relatively modern design factor, many older properties do not benefit from such robust systems and so sometimes compromises have to be made which can affect the flood risk to the property.

Obviously there is still a great desirability about living next to water, but if you are thinking about doing any kind of construction, then it is wise to visit websites such as the Environment Agency and speak to a consultant about the requirements for making a planning application but also what the risks are because next summer could always be more like 1816 than this one.

Peter French is a managing director at Canham Consulting, The Old School, School Lane, Thorpe St Andrew on 01603 430650, email peterfrench@canhamconsulting.co.uk

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