Hythe and the risk of flooding

Without wishing to underestimate the heartache and damage that comes with flooding, a 2012 report by the Association of British Insurers highlighted the risk of flooding in Folkestone and Hythe and was seized upon by the popular media. It was made to sound as though local residents should be equipping themselves with waders and taking scuba lessons.

What the report says is:

…“ The worrying scale of the flood risk faced by communities in political constituencies across England and Wales is revealed today, 31 January 2012 by the ABI. Boston and Skegness in Lincolnshire is the constituency with the most homes at significant risk of flooding followed by the Vale of Clwyd, Folkestone and Hythe, then Windsor. In 92 constituencies there are 1000 or more homes at high flood risk.

The ABI has analysed the latest Environment Agency flood data against the 573 parliamentary constituencies in England and Wales. This shows that, despite Government pledges to tackle the rising flood threat, thousands of homes and businesses remain at significant flood risk. Significant flood risk is defined as a greater than 1 in 75 chance of flood in any given year.”

You can read the full report here: From Aberconwy to York, Boston to Windsor – ABI highlights the serious flood risk facing communities in England and Wales.

Those of us who do business in Hythe are used to be being in the top five of all sorts of lists – number four in ‘Crap Towns’ and now we’re number three in the flood risk league, but we think that as a town we should be much further down the list. Delving a little deeper shows that Hythe is not quite in as much trouble as the scaremonger headlines would have you believe.

So, how about a dose of reality, rather than broad brush condemnation. Those of us that live and work in Hythe know that quite a lot of it, in fact more than half, is built on or up a great big hill. In fact a quick look at the environment agency map below shows that substantial areas of Hythe are in fact not identified as being at risk at all.

The report says that 7196 homes are at risk in Folkestone and Hythe parliamentary constituency – well a check of the constituency map shows that this extends right down to Lydd and Dungeness and pretty equivalent to Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s area.

The best figure I could get is that there are 47,500 homes in Shepway so that means that about 14% are at risk, and another look at that environment agency map shows that a disproportionate number – perhaps at least half of the affected homes must be out on Romney Marsh.

Hythe is pretty much in the clear with, at a guess, about 5% of the houses in Hythe (and all of those are on the flat) being affected. So that’ll be a 95% chance of NOT being at risk – pretty good odds, especially when you can check the form online. What is important though is to make sure that you talk to insurers at a total postcode level to avoid the blanket “Hythe is a flood risk so we won’t cover you” type of response.

The report also suggests that limited sea defence work has been done, well, that too is not quite right as the KCC Flood Risk Management in Kent 2007 report confirms that £12m has been spent in Folkestone and Hythe since 2000.

So, we say don’t panic. If you’re thinking of buying in Hythe, bear it in mind, but don’t let it put you off. Check right down to 6 digit postcode level and if insurers try and avoid cover, talk to them or to an experienced local broker (we suggest Blueshield Insurance in Prospect Road). You can also take a look at FloodRe a scheme developed to support people living in flood risk areas.

Of course if you need a building survey in Hythe we would be delighted to help. Call 01303 239000 or get a free no obligation quote online.

(Originally published by Steven Way, 1 February 2012)