Wednesday23 August 2017

Design ‘beautiful’ flood defences, says Cameron aide behind floods review

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Oliver Letwin wants more thought given to appearance of flood barriers

The MP behind the government’s floods strategy Oliver Letwin has said local authorities should take a leaf out of schemes overseas and ask architects to come up with “beautiful” flood defences.

Letwin drew up the National Flood Resilience Review, which was published in September, after years of extreme floods in Somerset, Cumbria and Yorkshire.

It is hoped the state’s £2.3 billion spending on flood and coastal defences will better protect around 300,000 homes.

But Letwin said flood defences were part of an area’s urban regeneration and design and so should be made to look attractive.

He added: “We should not see flood defences anymore, in an urban context, as something you graft on and that adds cost, but rather something that is built in which is beautiful, viable – indeed highly saleable and desirable – but also resilient.”

Letwin said there has been “a terrible tendency” to treat flood barriers as an after-thought and only added at a higher cost when an area has already been drenched.

He said: “We don’t need to behave that way anymore. We can see resilience to flooding as one of the features to good design in just the way that building beautiful buildings and nice urban settings and parks and trees and so on is not an additional drain. On the contrary, it increases [property] value because people actually like it.

“Rather than thinking of this as an ugly barrier that’s stuck on, if you were in Holland or the east coast of the United States, you would think it was completely normal to design in resilience.”

Letwin was former prime minister David Cameron’s chief policy lieutenant and developed the National Flood Resilience Review before he was sacked as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster by Theresa May in July.



Readers' comments (8)

  • Thanks Oliver, clearly as you know flood defences are greatly needed to protect valuable land. They are also greatly needed to develop valuable land. Your government in particular, as any neo-lib would do, shared none of the costs, but always wanted more of the benefits. Its fine lecturing people, they have a choice to listen, but when you don't support them (Somerset) and you won't help them (Essex) it simply sounds like a torrent of crap rushing down the pan. Get Real Letwin, smell the s***e.

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  • Enough flood defenses > Pretty flood defenses.

    Agree in principle, in practice I know what the Tories are like

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  • More flood defences upstream = more flooding downstream. All flood defence schemes should start at the sea and work up rivers to avoid this problem

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  • Memo Dat - Go to FLOOD DEFENCE SPENDING IN ENGLAND, a Standard Note published by the House of Commons library, and you will see that the Govt spent £800 million on flood defences in England in 2015. This was the highest amount in history, up from £450 million 2006. - Maritz Vandenberg.

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  • That would involve joined up thinking David

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  • @Maritz

    Unfortunately completely eclipsed by the cost of repairing the damage. More investment needed

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  • Getafix

    It should be a general rule for any new piece of infrastructure work that it considers design, appearance, wider amenity etc. should always be considered. Any public expenditure on construction should be linked to a consideration of visual appearance and an obligation to improve rather than degrade the quality of the environment.

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  • Franz, £1m equals approximately 1 mile of defense, so quantify that!

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