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Hitch for new homes

PUBLISHED: 19:53 16 August 2002 | UPDATED: 12:28 03 March 2010

INSURERS might refuse to give cover for new homes built on Felixstowe seafront because of the risk of flooding, prospective buyers were warned today.

If the prediction proves correct, it would mean people would be unable to get mortgages - and the properties might not sell.

INSURERS might refuse to give cover for new homes built on Felixstowe seafront because of the risk of flooding, prospective buyers were warned today.

If the prediction proves correct, it would mean people would be unable to get mortgages – and the properties might not sell.

Developers want to build 188 houses on the resort's south seafront as part of a project to feature new play facilities, an ampitheatre, cafe and gardens.

But the low-lying site is a nationally-recognised flood plain, even though the chances of a serious incursion by the sea is one in 200 years.

More than £35 billion of property in Britain stands on flood plains and several major insurers are threatening to withdraw contents and buildings cover for these areas and to refuse to insure any new homes on such sites.

Councillors have been told by campaigners of the dangers of building on the land at Felixstowe, but say they will be guided by advice from the Environment Agency and the government experts when they decide planning permission.

If it is decided permission can be given, insurance will then be a matter for the developers or the property purchasers.

Felixstowe councillor Dot Paddick said: "I cannot believe the council would allow this site to be built on knowing it is a flood plain.

"Sandbags are issued to people in Manor Terrace every winter, the waves regularly come over onto the land, and the council wants to put people there.

"It is ridiculous. If people cannot get insurance who will buy these homes?"

Civil engineer Norman Thompson has written to Suffolk Coastal council chief executive Tom Griffin, Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer and the town council to voice his fears.

"The government's current plans for flood protection schemes over the UK are woefully inadequate. While further proposals are promised by September, it does not appear likely that any further effective protection for the Felixstowe coastline will be imminent," said Mr Thompson.

"In this context insurers will not be sympathetic to the Felixstowe situation, nor do they believe that one flood every 200 years is a viable risk assessment.

"Indeed, such a figure is ill-founded – if north-east gales coincide with the abnormally high tides due from October 5-11 this year the fallacy of such an assessment is likely to be well established."

The council has been liasing with the Environment Agency but its final views are not expected until a planning application is on the table. The developers are likely to have to build the houses on raised platforms to avoid flooding.

New government guidance aims to "steer developers away from developing the flood plains" and there will be tough tests before any building can take place on vulnerable land, with a ban unless adequate defences can be assured.

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