Riverworks Bizarre Floating Homes Plan
Preston City Councils latest bizarre idea for our green belt is to build floating homes on the banks of the River Ribble.
The Lancashire Evening Post (LEP ‘Floating Homes’ Planned for City 28/8/07) revealed that a London based company, NGM Sustainable Developments, had met with officers from Preston City Council to discuss the possibility of building floating homes along the banks of the Ribble in Penwortham and Preston.
The homes, which have been pioneered in Holland, apparently remain unaffected by flooding because they can float on top of water and can withstand water level rises of up to four metres.
Councillor Hudson, leader of Preston City Council, welcomed the floating homes as a “very good idea”, while Mike Brogan, the Council’s director for regeneration, admitted that they were looking at technology for new types of housing on water and waterside areas.
Floating homes might indeed be a good idea in Holland where most of the country is below sea level, but why should Preston City Council think we need floating houses in our area? - Particularly as they have previously insisted to local residents (incorrectly) that other key proposal of Riverworks – a barrage on the River – would make flooding less not more likely...?
There are of course thousands of people in Britain who might have been glad to live in floating homes when their towns were inundated with floodwaters earlier in the summer. But let’s not forget that the extensive flooding that has occurred in Yorkshire and other areas this year is known to have been caused by a combination of heavy rainfall and years of building and development on floodplain! – which is of course precisely what Preston City Council’s Riverworks is proposing for the floodplain and green belt areas of Penwortham.
Whilst this perhaps answers the question of why Preston City Council is now suggesting the idea of floating homes as part of their Riverworks initiative to build homes and businesses on our floodplain and green belt – since their very own plans will make flooding even more likely in the area – what about the rest of us? Building on the floodplain – whether the new riverside homes can float or not – STILL INCREASES FLOODRISK FOR THE ALREADY EXISTING HOMES IN LOWER PENWORTHAM AND SOUTH PRESTON!!
If they build on the floodplain, it will no longer be able to work AS floodplain, which is why the Environment Agency are warning against ANY further building on floodplain as this not only puts the new homes at risk of flooding, but increases flooding elsewhere.
The Ribble floodplain operates by soaking up the excess rainfall and releasing it slowly into the River at low tide – as well as coping with the high river waters which heavy rains or high tides bring. If you cover the floodplain with concrete roads, driveways, patios, carparks, and homes (whether floatable or not), the ground is no longer able to act as a sponge, leaving that water as running floodwaters, plus the surface run-off from concrete during heavy rains is much faster and consequently more dangerous.
Local Ribbleside residents have been relieved this summer that our floodplain areas have coped well with the excess rainfall – and a walk on the Penwortham Green Belt will show just how much water this land is still holding even now.
We were of course also extremely fortunate that the flash floods in Broadgate and Penwortham coincided with low tide - flash floods which would themselves have been considerably worse if we did not have our floodplain busily soaking up many thousands of gallons of these rainwaters as they fell.
That the Council wants to factor the floating homes idea into the brief for Riverworks suggests that they may already be concerned about the feasibility of building on our floodplain – particularly after a summer of local and national flooding and clear evidence from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology that the Ribble is already at increased risk of flooding this Autumn due to more heavy rainfall being expected over the coming weeks.
Of course floating homes might be the solution for those fortunate enough to live in them. But for the rest of us it won’t matter whether the proposed new Riverside homes can float or not – building on the floodplain will increase the risk of flooding to us all.
Floating homes on the Docks is another matter – but along the riverbanks would STILL involve building on the Ribble floodplain. Perhaps Preston City Council, as part of its Riverworks proposals, would like to factor in some ideas and technology that could be used to float all homes in the area in the event of the inevitable floods that will occur if they continue with their dangerous plan of building on our floodplain?
Or perhaps they will finally see sense and spend the many millions this would cost on our woefully inadequate flood defences in Broadgate and on the areas of Preston that really could do with some hard cash input - and leave the floodplain undeveloped so it can get on with what it does best: helping to protect our communities from flooding?
Read more about the new Increased Floodrisk Alert for the Ribble;
and Why our Flood Defences need urgent repairs NOW;
and Why a Ribble Barrage & Floodplain Developments will be Disastrous for our Environment.
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