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PR 35 - Concreting gardens must stop to reduce flood risk

12 June 2008

The Government needs to take immediate steps to mitigate the risk of flooding by preventing homeowners from concreting over their front gardens according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

In February the Government promised to make a change to Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) which would mean that homeowners would only be permitted to pave over their front gardens if they used permeable surfaces like gravel or specially designed water permeable pavers. However, despite the release of its flood mitigation guidance today (Thursday) the Government has yet to fulfill its commitment and the practice of smothering gardens in waterproof surfaces continues.

Garden areas which are paved with non-permeable surfaces are a major contributor to flash-flooding as they prevent rainwater from seeping naturally into the ground, increasing water runoff which can overwhelm storm water drainage systems. The RTPI believes steps should be taken immediately to prevent this widespread practice.

Last year a series of floods caused by a combination of heavy downpours and poor drainage caused £3.3bn of damage and severely disrupted the supply of utilities - including fresh water - to thousands of homes across the UK. This year a number of flash floods have occurred including floods in Wiltshire, the Thames Valley, Kent, Sussex and a flood in Sommerset which was responsible for what local emergency crews described as their \"busiest night in living history\".

RTPI Secretary General Robert Upton said: \"The practice of paving over front gardens is widespread and growing rapidly. With every garden that's concreted over the risk of flash flooding in built up urban areas increases and urgent steps need to be taken to ensure that if homeowners do decide to cover their gardens they are compelled to do it in a way that does not contribute to the risk of flooding. The Government must take steps now to put the brakes on this potentially very dangerous practice.\"

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Dale Atkinson, RTPI Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479

Notes to Editors:

The government released Planning Policy Statement 25 today. The \"Development and Flood Risk - Practice Guide\" is available here. Section 51.1 deals with permitted development rights.

The Royal Town Planning Institute is a dynamic organisation leading the way in the creation of places that work now and in the future. We understand that just as people develop places, so places develop people.  We are committed to the enhancement of our natural and human environment, using spatial planning to manage competing pressures on our built environments and the very real effects on our space.  Through our 20,000 members, we constantly seek to create areas and places in which people want to live and work.

For further general information, visit the RTPI website at:

41 Botolph Lane, London, EC3R 8DL, charity no. 262865