Development proposals will be assessed according to the sequential approach and where necessary the exceptions test as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and associated guidance.

Development will only be permitted in areas of flood risk when there are no reasonably available sites in areas of lower flood risk and the benefits of the development outweigh the risks from flooding.

Planning Policy

Flood risk management essentially interacts with spatial planning in two main ways:

1. Using the planning system to avoid locating unnecessary new development in areas of high flood risk.
2. Mitigating the surface water run-off impacts of new development on downstream areas through planning policies.

The Oxfordshire Local Flood Risk Management Strategy establishes the responsibilities of Local Authorities and the developers themselves with regards to flood risk, and sets out the co-ordinated approach to the management of all local flood risk.

Local Plans

The NPPF explains how Local Plans should take account of flood risk. A Local Plan should set out the strategic priorities and policies for an area, including those to deliver the infrastructure for flood risk.

Local Planning Authorities can develop policies which contribute to the active management of flood risk and can include:

  • Allocating new development outside areas of high flood risk or securing of flood protection measures;
  • Protecting watercourse corridors and green networks;
  • Avoiding new culverting of watercourses;
  • Actively encouraging the de-culverting of watercourses;
  • Requiring sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in new developments;
  • Using Section 106 agreements from the Town and Country Planning Act  or community infrastructure levy (CIL) to secure suitable surface water drainage arrangements and;
  • Encouraging the use of in-built property level resistance and resilience measures.

Development Management/Control

Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) must take the probability of flooding from all sources and the risks involved into account when determining planning applications. Local Planning Authorities should:

  • Publicise the benefits of their pre-application service;
  • Screen all planning applications at the validation stage for flood risk from all sources – river, groundwater and surface water;
  • Ensure that all relevant information sources have been utilised by the applicants to obtain flood related data and information;
  • Ensure that the sequential and exception tests have been applied correctly;
  • Ensure that an appropriate Flood Risk Assessment has been submitted, which demonstrates that the development will be safe for the lifetime of the development, has safe access and egress in times of flood, will not increase flood risk elsewhere and will deliver clear opportunities; and
  • Ensure that the relevant stakeholders have been consulted (Lead Local Flood Authority, the Environment Agency and the WASCs).

Oxfordshire County Council has published local guidance to support Local Planning Authorities in considering surface water drainage proposals in Oxfordshire, and to assist developers in the design of all surface water drainage systems. The guide sets out the standards that we apply in assessing all drainage proposals, as well as the information we require to be submitted as part of the planning application. This guidance is a ‘live’ document which will be continually updated and improved – the current version is: v1.2 December 2021. For more information, please download the Local Standards and Guidance for Surface Water Drainage on Major Development in Oxfordshire.

Neighbourhood Plans

Communities can also ensure that new development adequately plans for flood risk. Neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to ensure that they get the right types of development for their community.

Our Neighbourhood Planning and Flood Risk guide has been produced to help support the development of these plans.