Draft Flood Risk Supplementary Planning Document

1.2 Policy framework and guidance

Flood Risk Responsibilities

1.2.1 This guidance aims to support the Council and others in fulfilling their flood risk management responsibilities by ensuring that sufficient information is supplied alongside planning applications to support decision making. Table 1 below provides an overview of key organisations and their flood risk management responsibilities.

Table 1 - Flood risk management role and responsibilities


Role in relation to flood risk

Elmbridge Borough Council

  • Preparation of planning documents
  • Determination of planning applications
  • Emergency planning

Surrey County Council (Lead Local Flood Authority, Highways Authority)

  • Required to prepare a flood risk management strategy
  • Management of flood risk from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses
  • Responsibility for drainage of surface water from highways
  • Consenting body for works affecting an Ordinary Watercourse

Environment Agency

  • Provide technical advice on flood risk to local authorities and developers
  • Modelling and mapping of flood risk
  • Consenting body for works affecting a Main River
  • Management of flood risk from Main Rivers, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea

Thames Water Utilities Ltd

  • Surface water drainage from development via adopted sewers
  • Maintaining public sewers

Highways Agency

  • Drainage of surface water from red routes

National and local policy framework

1.2.2 Table 2 below sets out the main flood risk policy and guidance documents relevant to the planning process in Elmbridge. All local policies and guidance documents are in accordance with national policy contained in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and associated Planning Practice Guidance (PPG).

Table 2 - Key planning policy and guidance documents

National Policy/Guidance

National Planning Policy Framework


Planning Policy Guidance - Flood Risk and Coastal Change


Environment Agency and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


Local policy

Elmbridge Core Strategy - Policies CS26, CS12


Development Management Plan - Policies DM6 and DM13


Local guidance

Flood Risk Supplementary Planning Document


Strategic Flood Risk Assessment


Design and Character Supplementary Planning Document


National policy/guidance

1.2.3 The approach to considering flood risk is guided by the following broad principles as set out within the NPPF, PPG and advice produced by the Environment Agency and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA):

National policy-guidance

1.2.4 Inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding should be avoided by directing development away from areas at highest risk. Where development is necessary in areas at risk of flooding all development will need to demonstrate that it:

  • Is safe for its lifetime
  • Does not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere
  • Where possible will reduce flood risk overall.

1.2.5 All such developments will need to meet the requirements of the Sequential and Exceptions Tests (where appropriate) and must incorporate mitigation measures to minimise risk and ensure safety. This should be demonstrated through a site-specific FRA.

Core Strategy Policy CS26: Flooding

1.2.6 The Council's Core Strategy contains the main local policy for addressing flood risk. Whilst it provides local detail, it is in accordance with national policy and follows the key principles of flood risk management discussed above.

Core Strategy Policy CS26: Flooding

In order to reduce the overall and local risk of flooding in the Borough:


1. Development must be located, designed and laid out to ensure that it is safe; the risk from flooding is minimised whilst not increasing the risk of flooding elsewhere; and that residual risks are safely managed. Planning permission therefore will only be granted, or land allocated for development where it can be demonstrated that:

  • Through a sequential test it is located in the lowest possible flood risk zone in accordance with PPS25 and the Elmbridge Strategic Flood Risk Assessment;
  • It would not constrain the natural function of the floodplain, either by impeding flow or reducing storage capacity;
  • Where sequential and exceptions tests have been undertaken, any development that takes place where there is a risk of flooding will need to ensure that mitigation measures are integrated into the design to minimise the risk to property and life should flooding occur.

2. Permitted development rights for development which could result in a loss of flood storage capacity or impede flow will be removed from new developments in flood zone 3, in order to ensure the risk of flooding is not increased through unregulated development.  

3.  In the event that development takes place in flood risk zones 2 or 3, the Council will require flood resistance and resilience measures in line with current Environment Agency Advice and advice included within the SFRA.

4.  New development will need to contain SuDS, in line with the Council's Climate Neutral Development Checklist. All development within flood zones 2 and 3 will require surface water run off to be controlled, as near to its source as possible and at greenfield rates. Where SuDS have not been used in these areas the applicant should justify these reasons.

5.  For the classification of flood zones, the Council will take account of the recommendations of the most recent SFRA, and reclassify to take account of climate change and the protection of dry islands surrounded by high flood risk areas (see CS14-Green Infrastructure and CS15-Biodiversity).

6.  The Council will support recommendations contained within the Lower Thames Strategy, provided these do not result in an unacceptable impact on the local environment.

7.  The Council will protect all undeveloped flood plains such as Desborough Island and Hurst Park, East Molesey, from non-flood compatible uses, and promote flood compatible ones in accordance with PPS25.

1.2.7 Core Strategy Policy CS12: The River Thames Corridor and its tributaries sets out the Council's coordinated, partnership approach to development adjoining the Borough's river corridors including development design, enhancing the landscape and waterscape, improving public access to the riverside, reducing flood risk and maintaining open areas as potential flood storage.

Development Management Plan Policies

1.2.8 The Core Strategy is supplemented by policies in the Development Management Plan, which provide detail on matters relating to flood risk such as riverside development (Table 3). 

Table 3: Development Management Plan policies

Development Management Plan Policy

Summary of policy

DM6: Landscape and trees

Reference to the incorporation of SuDS, predominantly their role in supporting landscape improvements as well as encouraging adaptation to climate change.

DM22: Recreational use of waterways

Consideration of riverside uses that support appropriate recreational activity on waterways. Encouraging public access.

DM13: Riverside development and uses

Design of riverside development including development free buffer strips, landscape, biodiversity, views, public access, heritage and water quality.

Design and Character Supplementary Planning Document

1.2.9 Section 6 (page 53) of the Design and Character SPD sets out details of the design of riverside development.

Elmbridge Strategic Flood Risk Assessment

1.2.10 The Council's SFRA is an evidence base document designed to support the preparation and implementation of planning policies. The current version was published in June 2015.

1.2.11 The SFRA has informed the preparation of this SPD and close reference is made to it throughout. It brings together various sources of information to provide a comprehensive overview of flood risk in Elmbridge. Crucially it contains mapping of flood risk for the Borough as well as summaries of flood risk within each of the Borough's eight Settlement Areas. It is a living document with maps being updated periodically to reflect changes.

Other strategies and guidance

1.2.12 Table 4 highlights a number of key strategies and guidance documents prepared by various agencies that have informed local policies and guidance documents such as the SFRA.

Table 4: Other strategies and guidance

Strategy/Guidance documentSummaryLink
Thames Landscape Strategy 100 year blueprint for the River Thames between Weybridge, Hampton and Kew designed to inform strategic policy. http://thames-landscape-strategy.org.uk/
Thames Basin - Flood Risk Management Plan Sets out proposals for managing the risk of flooding at a catchment and river basin scale to inform decisions about where investment and action is targeted.



A new draft flood risk management plan has been prepared and consulted on - https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/ho/flood/draft_frmp/consult?pointId=s1407245469487

Surrey Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment A high level summary of significant flood risk. http://new.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/flooding-advice/more-about-flooding/the-preliminary-flood-risk-assessment
Surrey Local Flood Risk Management Strategy Provides a clear vision for managing flood risk from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses in Surrey http://new.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/flooding-advice/more-about-flooding/surrey-local-flood-risk-management-strategy