Catchment flood management plans and strategic flood risk assessments should protect floodplains.
Floodplains are an important green infrastructure component and need to be protected and managed at a strategic level as part of the catchment flood management plan and strategic flood risk assessment processes. These will also provide valuable areas for recreation and biodiversity. Where possible, functional floodplains should be recreated.
One example of action at a sub-regional level is joint work by Greater Manchester local authorities on a strategic flood risk assessment covering relevant water catchment areas. This will help to understand the cumulative impact of flooding across a whole river catchment. For example, part of Salford’s future protection will be to prevent run-off from Bury, Bolton and Rochdale getting into the river in the first place. This could include the storage of floodwaters upstream.
Strategic flood risk assessments form an important part of the evidence base for Local Development Frameworks and more site specific flood risk assessments.
The consideration of appropriate land uses and management for of all parts of the floodplain should be carefully considered within a strategic assessment. Opportunities to allow more natural responses of this green infrastructure asset should be prioritised where appropriate, this may include difficult decisions such as managed retreat of the coastline in some vulnerable areas. Where such decisions are made all efforts to maximise the value of the resulting landscape should be taken – for example maximising the biodiversity opportunities. In Milton Keynes, an innovative scheme has recreated a floodplain forest to support greater flood water capacity and biodiversity value.
Sutcliffe Park in London is an example of a newly created floodplain which re-opened in 2004. This was undertaken in order to protect the centre of Lewisham from severe flooding by the River Quaggy.
Previous engineering solutions had led to the river being contained underground in a concrete culvert. The re-development opened up the river again and lowered and shaped the park to create and enhance the ‘natural’ floodplain. The site now includes increased public access, educational opportunities, recreational facilities and habitat planting.
CABE and Urban Practitioners
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