Building on Flood Zone

Village Fears Future Flooding

 The latest planning proposals for the village of Clyst St Mary from the Development Agents, Jones Lang LaSalle, (who represent the previous and present linked companies of Friends Provident/ Friends Life/F & C Reit/BMO Real Estate and Aviva) have been submitted to East Devon District Council for consideration under Planning Application 16/2460/MOUT. However, the development proposals include 150 residential dwellings plus employment and community units on areas of the decommissioned Aviva Insurance headquarters at Winslade Park that lie within a flood zone!

The Developers recently held a Public Consultation in the Clyst St Mary Village Hall displaying their future plans for consideration and requesting comments by the residents to enable these to be incorporated into their overall masterplan. The photographs below were forwarded to them showing the extensive flooding that was experienced in this area when the Grindle Brook burst its banks at this time last year on 30th December 2015 and it was emphasised that certain zones, in this vicinity, flood frequently and these areas were, therefore, not considered to be suitable for residential, workplace or community development.

The link below identifies the current flood risk and shows the vulnerability of the Winslade Park site, proving that substantial future flood defences are essential, although the Environment Agency website states that “flood defences do not completely remove the chance of flooding and can fail in extreme weather conditions.”


Sadly, the Developers have chosen not to take local representations from the Public Consultation into consideration and have continued with their development proposals on areas of land subject to High Risk (Flood Zone 3) classification by the Environment Agency.

At present the East Devon Villages Plan 2016 is also in the process of Public Consultation to consider new built-up area boundaries for certain villages (including Clyst St Mary), with a Planning Inspector determining where such future development boundaries should be defined. However, the Developers’ inappropriate planning applications for development on flood plains at Winslade Park could now be considered for a decision by the East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee before the residents of Clyst St Mary have the opportunity to put forward their comments on this site to the Government Inspector. This seems to be totally undemocratic and certainly not fully representational, being not in accordance with the main principles directing the devolution of decision-making to local people in the Localism Act.

Mark Wilson is the Group Chief Executive of Aviva. This huge company is one of the linked companies associated with this proposed development at Winslade Park. Wilson was named in 2016 as one of Britain’s 500 most influential people who have made a difference to British society. He was noted for finalising the £5.6 billion acquisition of Friends Life with the resulting merger turning Aviva into one of the UK’s largest investors managing £300 billion plus assets.

Writing in The Telegraph in 2014, Mark Wilson emphasised that there should be a halt on building on “defenceless” flood plains. He stated that “As a nation we need to build more homes, but the cost of development must include the cost of defences.” His mantra continued “Let’s be crystal clear: no defences, no development. We can’t stop the weather, but we can act in unison to minimise the impact of extreme events and we know that the threat is only going to increase, with scientists predicting greater flood frequency and extreme weather as a result of climate change. Although the current focus for us all is coastal and river flooding, surface water flooding is a major concern. More homes, driveways and car parks all contribute to more water flowing into the system, and flowing quickly.”

He acknowledged that flooding is one of the most traumatic events that any householder or business can face, with families forced out of their homes, valuable and much-loved possessions being ruined and businesses struggling to trade. He was aware that it can be many months before the drying-out process is completed and subsequent repairs can commence and that being the Chief Executive of Aviva, the UK’s largest insurers, he understood the emotional cost, trauma and feeling of vulnerability that comes with flooding.

Even with the Flood Re scheme which guarantees affordable insurance for households in flood-prone areas, surely it would be prudent not to create the problem by developing on areas at risk of flooding, thus sparing the necessity for future flood insurance claims on those same areas. Specific localities of the village of Clyst St Mary have a history of flooding with the images below showing the areas outside The Half Moon public house and Frog Lane in 1946.

Consequently, the residents of Clyst St Mary applaud the views of Mark Wilson, Group Chief Executive of Aviva, and hope that his strong opinions on flooding and huge influence will have a direct effect on the development proposals by the Insurance Group incorporating Aviva for the residential, workplace and community areas at Winslade Park, Clyst St Mary that lie within a flood zone!

Let’s be crystal clear: no defences, no development


Friends Provident High Risk Flood Zones

Photographs of recent flooding