Eh? Mr Lean, I mean Eh?

Besides, there are some issues – such as what level of flood risk is acceptable – that only governments have the democratic authority to decide.

I think the risk of the River Avon running through the kitchen is something that putative buyers of a property can work out for themselves. Possibly in conjunction with whoever writes their flood insurance.

We would never think it \”democratic\” to insist that people must live in a flood plain. So why would we think it so that we insist they do not?

12 thoughts on “Eh? Mr Lean, I mean Eh?”

  1. PaulB: I don’t think, as a point of logic, you can appeal to the ways things are as proof of a principle. Unless you’re an exceptionally solid conservative, I suppose.

    Even accepting that governments do occasionally step in to issues like this, Lean’s sentence is madness. Only government has the democratic authority to decide?

  2. I suggest that the,”democratic authority”‘ Mr. Lean is imagining is akin to that which allowed the removal of seed-corn from Ukrainian farmers in the 1930’s, leaving them to starve to death.

  3. Government certainly took the authority to insist an entire Olympic facility be built smack in the middle of a flood plain. There was a slight clue to the wisdom of doing so in that grazing cattle in the midst of some of the most expensive development land in Europe might just indicate something.
    It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

  4. Why are governments better at assessing risk than insurance companies? (whose job it is.)
    Why cannot an individual decide the level of risk he finds acceptable? (OK, I know the answer to this: it’s because we are being deliberately infantilised by government.)

  5. Why do we even discuss this, instead of simply building stilted houses? The added cost is minimal, and almost all the problems associated with building in flood plains simply vanish.

  6. ” building stilted houses? The added cost is minimal, ”

    Perhaps you’d care to introduce me to your builder. I’d be fascinated to learn how he’s doing this so economically

  7. Bloke in Spain>

    Take a trip to any of the parts of the world where it’s standard practice. The added cost is not zero, but not very high either. Essentially you take the same foundations, stick in four or half-a-dozen reinforced concrete pillars, join them across the top with reinforced concrete beams, and then build whatever you want on top of that. Obviously that’s for small and normal-sized houses, and would cost proportionally more for large and very large houses, but we’re still talking about an amount small enough that even in semi-developed countries people frequently build like that for purely stylistic reasons without worrying about some large increase in costs.

    What you end up with is the outline of an extra floor, at ground level, with no walls or fittings. That doesn’t add enough to the weight to make a difference to your foundations, nor does it take a long time to build or a large amount of materials.

  8. Yes, Dave. Unfortunately that’d require an entirely different design from that used in pretty well all of two storey res in the UK. Which is the most economical. Which is why it’s used. Poured slab & brick shell.
    Elevated construction, resistant to inundation, is a bit more complicated than you might be aware. You have to design for potential scour. Now you can get scour simply from falling rain but a few inches of concrete topping will resist that. Depends on the level of inundation you’re building for. Few inches aren’t too bad but once you’re into multiple feet there are going to be considerable currents simply from flooding in & out, let alone water travel down the natural gradient. Even a couple feet/second will undermine shallow foundations. Grass covered field will resist that, but it hasn’t got loads of concrete piles sticking out of it, creating eddies which have the ground shifting potential of dynamite, given time..
    Then you’ve services to consider. Electric can come in via overhead cabling easy enough. Better to not even consider gas. The real bugger is sewerage & water. Once you’re flooded, your floodwaters & your sewer systems tend to be the same thing. Now, if your water pipes break which is what floods tend to do, you’ve all three mingling. Very nasty.
    On top of all this, for the duration of the inundation, your losing all your transport. Any water comes more than halfway up your gumboots has the potential to be bloody dangerous because it may conceal much deeper holes or contain strong currents. So all the houses become little islands only reachable by boat.
    Yes, I’ve seen flood resistant dwellings but they’ve all tended to be fairly isolated & built where the considerable expense is justifiable. And generally on pretty stable substrate. High density housing on the sort of soils common on UK floodplains would be another matter.
    Actually, if we were going to learn from anyone the Dutch would be instructive. Go for dykes & pump capability. Bloody expensive, though.

  9. Go to Google Maps, enter the postcode SL6 8TT, and look at Street View. There you will see UK house designed and built to withstand inundation on a flood plain. The front door leads to a staircase, the accommodation being on the first and second floors (potentially the bottom few stairs-worth of carpet are vulnerable). The ground floor is for garage and storage space, with part of the walls being replaced by slatted fencing with generous gaps. In the event of flood, one moves the car, bikes etc to higher ground. It works – we had friends who lived there very happily.

  10. Yes, Robert, and the postcode might also give a clue. Windsor is not exactly the cheapest res in the country, is it? So with development land at very high cost, it’s worthwhile spending the extra entailed in inundation resistant housing. Do you know what that was? Because I’m confident it was considerably more than the ‘not very much’ Dave implied.
    Not saying I’ve anything against people building what they want, wherever they want. Their money. Their risk. Just saying it’s a little more complicated than sticking houses up on stilts.

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