Speaking to BBC 4’s Today programme, Sir James Bevan said building new homes on flood plains should be resisted if it was possible.
If development had to proceed, homes should be designed to be more flood proof using techniques such as only putting garages on the ground floor to keep people safe upstairs. Trees can be planted and wetland habitats can be created or rivers could be restored to their natural shape, where they have been artificially straightened.
Bevan told the BBC that “almost all” residents can remain where they are and their flood defences improved but he wanted a conversation about their sustainability and protection in the long term. However, he added that some communities may need to be moved out of harm’s way if the risks became too great.
His views follow the widespread flooding following the recent storms, Ciara and Dennis.