Tips for house builders – don’t build on soggy land (and some other stuff)

07_january_2016A letter a day to number 10. No 1,308

Thursday 07 January 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

A number of newspapers and organisations are reporting that nearly half the new houses being planned in your economic miracle of a home owning democracy are to be built on flood plains or areas at significant risk of flooding, some of which have already flooded in recent times, like Hinkley in Somerset which flooded in 2014.

People who can do sums have pointed out that these planned affordable new homes will cost nearly half a million pounds in London and a quarter million elsewhere in somewhere Britain, meaning that in London people would need to be earning £77,000 a year and £50,000 if you live in the sticks. Don’t ask me how they work out that you’d only have to earn half as much again in London for a house that costs twice as much as in the sticks, I’m just a pleb. I only do money in tens and hundreds although I can imagine thousands, but everything above that is bat dribble, which, astute observers will notice, is exactly the opposite to you and your government.

The thought of you being paid the new minimum wage, or what boy George calls the new living wage, of £7.20 an hour, come April, is as delicious as it is silly. Imagine taking home £288, if you did a 40 hour week, to keep your life and limbs attached and buying a house? It wouldn’t even cover the foreign underpaid nannies and cleaners so beloved of you wealthy metropolitan elites and Bollinger would definitely be off the menu. But I digress.

I know how mad keen you always are to ‘do the right thing’, so perhaps you should be looking to build buoyant homes as they do in Holland, these homes have a cunning way of going up and down in times of flooding by a process which they describe as ‘floating’. Such homes would have the added bonus of being insurable, which, it seems, will be unlikely for homes built to stand still on the flood plains of Britain where foundations become concrete boots when the wet stuff comes to wash the furniture.

In 2012 Mark Easten, BBC Home editor, reported that a UK National Ecosystem Assessment team comprising some five hundred experts discovered that a mere 6.8% of Britain was actually urbanised including roads and other builty up stuff. But wait, they also discovered that if you take away anything that isn’t built on in urban areas like parks, rivers, allotments, domestic gardens and the like, the actual figure was 2.27%.

Call me silly, but surely there must be enough bits of land in all that space, that we might call the natural landscape, that is a bit higher than sea level, or normal river level, plus a few metres, to enable it to be flood free? I’ve had a look at topographic maps of Britain which show how land above sea level can go up quite a way and there seems to be a fair bit of land in Britain that does just that. I’m not suggesting building on mountain tops, but at least a bit higher than water logged or underwater for parts of the year. People who like messing about in and around water could maybe just buy a boat. What do you think?

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