Policy 03: Development and flooding

What we're trying to achieve

[3.03.01] We will meet the challenge of planning for new development that avoids increased vulnerability to the range of impacts arising from climate change, specifically flooding and coastal change.

Policy 03: Development and flooding

We want to increase the resilience of the Lake District to all types of flood event, including river, surface water and coastal flooding.

We will achieve this by:

  1. supporting development proposals in accordance with National Planning
    Policy and associated Planning Practice Guidance; and
  2. supporting flood resilience schemes and Natural Flood Management which
    - are tailored to provide the optimum solution for the catchment as a
    whole, and
    - reduce flood risk in Rural Service Centres and Villages or areas of highest
    risk, or
    - reduce the impact of a flood event; and
  3. requiring all developments to demonstrate how surface water run-off
    will be controlled, including where practicable, Sustainable Drainage
    Systems (SUDS).

Have your say!

Please read the guidance on completing the survey

Open the survey here

Policies map

If viewing the maps on mobile devices, you may find it easier to view in desktop site.

View the policies map

Current Situation

[3.03.02] Water is a key feature of the Lake District, with 9,158km of watercourses, 26 miles of coastline and a further 58.28sq km of still water including the 16 main lakes. Nine per cent of the Lake District is directly affected by a functional floodplain and/ or high flood risk area. This affects 5,599 buildings. The Lake District is no stranger to flooding with several significant flooding events being recorded. And these flood events are becoming more frequent and larger.

[3.03.03] A refreshed Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (2018) has been produced. Many of the large rivers in the County have their origins within the Lake District, such as the Kent, the Derwent and the Eamont. There is pressure to support upstream interventions such as appropriately designed and justified flood storage and natural flood management schemes which help to ‘slow the flow’ and mitigate flooding downstream in densely populated locations.

[3.03.04] The sea level will continue to rise which will affect the West Coast of the Lake District by changing the frequency of occurrence of high water levels and wave heights during storm events. The likely impacts are coastal erosion, damage to property and infrastructure and coastal flooding, and over the next 20 – 50 years there is the potential for net loss of intertidal and dunes overall. The marine plan for the northwest is being developed. The St Bees Head to Earnse Point Shoreline Management Plan includes the coastal area in the Lake District.

[3.03.05] Surface water run-off is a significant source of flooding in the Lake District, which makes its way into drains, combined sewers and surface water bodies. This has implications on water quality, for example Phosphorous is used in agriculture and through surface water run-off can find its way into water bodies and cause algal blooms which can reduce the amount of oxygen in the water, inhibiting aquatic life, and potentially impacting on recreational uses of the lakes.


[3.03.06] We aim to steer new development to areas with the lowest probability of flooding. We will achieve this by assessing proposals in accordance with Government guidance, the online mapping resource from the Environment Agency and the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment. Where development must be located in an area of flood risk, the development must be made safe for its lifetime and not increase the risk of flooding.

[3.03.07] Natural Flood Management could include river restoration. Flood resilience schemes can be at catchment scale or at a settlement level, and can also relate to individual properties.

[3.03.08] For sites identified as being at potential flood risk from surface water run off we require applications to be supported by a site specific flood risk assessment. These should be undertaken by qualified personnel. We wish to constrain the volume of runoff to any drain, sewer or surface water body, by seeking opportunities to reduce the overall level of flood risk in the area and beyond. The runoff volume from the developed site should not exceed the runoff volume when the site was undeveloped. New development proposals should demonstrate how surface water run-off is controlled in accordance with the surface water drainage hierarchy.

[3.03.09] Controlling surface water run-off can be as simple as a green roof on a new extension, or using permeable material for parking areas to more complex landscape engineered solutions such as a rain garden, swales and reed beds. Not only will this help to reduce the impact that surface water runoff has on the sewer system, but may also help to improve the quality of the water being discharged into the water environment as a result of the treatment systems provided by Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDs). SUDS may not be practicable for some forms of development, we will make this judgement by considering Planning Practice Guidance and liaise with the lead local flood authority.

[3.03.10] We will avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding in order to safeguard land from development that is required for current and future flood management (such as a depression acting as a natural store of surface water on part of a site). And, if new development proposals allow, culverted watercourses should be restored to open channels and no watercourse should be culverted unless there is an overriding need to do so.

Previous consultation responses

Comments on this policy

Case Study: Water Edge, Derwentwater

New building in an area known to flood

New flood resistant building

Architect: Crosby Granger Architects

A replacement house on the site of where the original house had flooded twice in ten years. A highly contemporary design in sensitive lake shore location which has been designed to reduce the risk of future flooding. The design provides a bold use of both modern and vernacular materials.

Find out more: