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Banks flood tag will kill village, councillor says
23 September 2009

Banks will die as a village if council restrictions on its future development are not lifted, one of its councillors has claimed this week.

North Meols borough councillor David Vickers said on Monday (September 21, 2009) that the area is at risk of missing out on substantial future development because it is seen as a high-risk flood area, and called for an independent assessment to be carried out.

"At the moment the development the council is planning for this area is minimal, because it's deemed as a high flood risk, but we need to look at this again. I'm not criticising the council, but want to work with them for the good of Banks," he said.

"I don't want to Banks to die out as a village and just become a suburb of Southport or Preston, but to actually develop and retain its community spirit in the future."

Cllr Vickers' comments follow an open meeting of residents and North Meols Parish Council held last Tuesday (September 17, 2009) to identify how the village's future fits in with the borough council's Local Development Framework, which looks at developments across West Lancashire over the next twenty years and is currently undergoing consultation.

Banks is currently seen by the council as being in a high-risk flood area, due to its proximity to the Ribble estuary, which could curtail any major development in the area.

However the last time the village flooded was in 1922, and North Meols Parish Council believes that an independent reassessment of the area could open the floodgates for more development in future.

The borough council said it acknowledged that a number of areas were classed as being high flood risk, a significant weight in planning guidelines, but stressed the areas were defined by the Environment Agency.

"As the Borough Council prepares its Local Development Framework it has to be mindful of all relevant planning guidance. The flood risk mapping undertaken by the Environment Agency indicates that a significant amount of land in the northern areas of the Borough are at risk from coastal flooding, this includes a large amount of prime agricultural land and the settlement area of Banks," said a council spokesperson.

"The Core Strategy Options Paper does not prevent development opportunities from arising in the Banks area. Should any further development be proposed through a future preferred option then more further detail study work will have to be undertaken to assess the impact of flooding on the settlement area of Banks.

The Environment Agency did not comment on whether it was considering a reassessment of Hesketh Bank's risk of flooding, but did acknowledge that future development would be affected.

"We provide a copy of our Flood Map to all local authorities to illustrate areas at risk of flooding. The Flood Map shows that Banks is at a high risk of flooding from the sea and this has been confirmed in West Lancashire Borough Council's Strategic Flood Risk Assessment," said Holly Simpson, spokeswoman.

"National planning policy requires local authorities to direct inappropriate development away from areas identified as being at risk of flooding where possible. Whilst the village does benefit from flood defences in place locally, we cannot prevent flooding altogether so it is not possible to remove the risk entirely."

By David Simister


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