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Planning Blight Risk faces Cockermouth has learned that the Environment Agency are now raising major objections to residential proposals in Cockermouth town centre because of claimed flood risks.

In an application to change a first floor area above a town centre shop into residentiual usage the Environment Agency has stated:
"We OBJECT to the application and recommend refusal of planning permission on this basis for the following reasons: The site lies within Flood Zone 3 defined by Planning Policy Statement 25 as having a high probability of flooding where <notwithstanding the mitigating measures proposed,> the risk to life and / or property,from fluvial inundation would be unacceptable if the development were to be allowed. "

The Agency continues its objections stating: "Residential accommodation is defined in PPS25 as 'More Vulnerable' in terms of flood risk vulnerability classification (Table D.2 PPS25), whereas shops and storage would be classed as 'Less Vulnerable'. As such this application must be considered as a change of use resulting in More Vulnerable development." asked the Agency to explain and was told it was based on national policy guidelines. Follow the link below to go to the Allerdale Council page with the Environment Agency statement.
Read an example of the type of Objections being imposed on much of the town here...

Comment: Ironically many in the town have claimed the Agency contributed to the flood crisis because of failures to dredge and clear overhanging trees from the main rivers.

The Agency then made this reply to questions from "The Environment Agency (EA) have objected to planning application number 2/2010/0422-15B Main Street, Cockermouth on flood risk grounds. In doing so the EA have complied with National Planning Policy Guidance PPG25 – Development and Flood Risk, the revised version of which was made available to planning authorities in March 2010.The Environment Agency is a statutory consultee to local planning authorities on applications for development in flood risk areas and offers guidance and advice on this basis. It is the local authority that makes the decision as to whether a proposal should receive planning permission based on the views and guidance of their consultees and own guidance (PPG25).The consultation comments given on the above application were on an individual basis and do not represent a ‘blanket policy objection’. That is not to say that if the Environment Agency were consulted on a similar proposal in a similar location the consultation comments would not be consistent given the same constraints on development."

The Environment Agenmcy went on to state the following claims : " The information below may be of assistance to you: What caused the Cumbria 2009 Floods? The amount of rainfall that fell over two days on top of a saturated catchment caused rivers to swell, many to record levels, and overwhelm the flood plain and to inundate the local towns. Did gravel build up causing the flooding? Gravel removal would not have prevented the flooding that occurred in November 2009. Dredging river channels can be a significant benefit in flood risk reduction but it is not always the most appropriate solution to prevent flooding. Whilst dredging or digging deep channels in the rivers Cocker and Derwent might have an impact on small scale frequent high river flows it would not have reduced the scale of flooding caused by the unprecedented rainfall in Cumbria.
Does the Environment Agency remove gravel from rivers?; We regularly monitor the river bed levels in urban areas where gravel accumulation occurs and removed some gravel from Keswick and Cockermouth in July 2009. However, we only remove gravel where we need to in order to maintain the required level of flood protection. The November floods deposited a substantial quantity of gravel (8 – 10,000 cubic metres) in the River Derwent through Cockermouth. Our modelling showed that the level of flood protection was significantly reduced in this location. Excess gravel from half a mile stretch of the river to reinstate the flood protection. This work was carried out in February 2010."

Read an example of the type of Objections being imposed on much of the town here...