My name is Richard Bryant and, as well as being a member of Cranleigh Civic Society, I am a Chartered Insurance Broker and, as such, I am actively campaigning against building on flood plains because of the serious flood insurance issues.

I have been urging the Joint Planning Committee at Waverley Borough Council to seriously consider the human aspect of flooding, not just the effect on roads and infrastructure.

To suffer surface water flooding is in some ways worse than having a fire in your home – fires are normally one off but there is always the genuine worry with flooding that it will reoccur.

There are very serious flood insurance implications for new people buying a house in Cranleigh on the sites proposed by Berkeley Homes, Knowle Park Initiative and Crest Nicholson.

The owners of houses built before 1 January 2009, and which are at the highest risk of flooding, will be helped to obtain flood cover, at an affordable cost, under a special arrangement set up by the Association of British Insurers and the Government called Flood Re.

However this arrangement DOES NOT apply to houses built after 1 January 2009 as, after that date, new houses should be located to avoid flood risk and to avoid increasing flood risk elsewhere in line with national planning policies..

Of course, this will not be mentioned by the developers in their sales brochures – there will be no warning given to prospective house buyers of the potential for flooding and the insurance implications of this.

Even if a house escapes flooding by a few inches, but neighbouring houses are under water, the owner of that undamaged house could well have problems at their next insurance renewal as, when the land next floods, that previously undamaged house may well succumb to flooding – it will be considered as high risk..

So when the purchaser of a new house suffers flooding – that is bad enough but they then face:

  • the value of their house plummeting
  • the possibility of negative equity
  • having to move to temporary accommodation for many months whilst their house is cleared of sewage and debris, dries out and is repaired
  • the possibility that flood insurance may not available to them anymore or, if it is, having to pay a high premium and/or large excess
  • being petrified, every time there is persistent heavy rain, that this hell will happen all over again to them

At the Cranleigh Parish Council meeting on 8 December not only did all the Councillors object to the Knowle Park Initiative outline planning application but they all cited flooding as their main concern.

Also, for the first time, they referred to the human aspect of suffering flooding. Also we were told that Waverley will, at long last, attach importance to Cranleigh’s flood history – for ages we have been telling them that statistics can be “manipulated” to serve any purpose but history is fact!

Councillors are now listening to what Cranleigh Civic Society are telling them on behalf of the Cranleigh Community!