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What is the Exceptions Test?

Image result for uk flooding wikimedia commons

The Exceptions Test is included (if needed) in our standard Flood Risk Assessment report. Please contact us for a quotation. Our methods meets with near 100% acceptance.

The Exception Test provides a method of managing flood risk while still allowing necessary development to occur. The Exception Test is only appropriate for use when there are large areas in Flood Zones 2 and 3, “where the Sequential Test alone cannot deliver acceptable sites, but where some continuing development is necessary for wider sustainable development reasons, taking into account the need to avoid social or economic blight”.

The exceptions test should not be seen as a tick box exercise there are opportunities within the test the show that you have thought about how your project will perform in a flood, and how it might help the area it is situated within. As with the Sequential Test the Exceptions Test can make or break a planning application.

Image: Alan Bowring / Usk in full flood, via Wikimedia Commons


Use of Brownfield Land
Wider Sustainability Benefits
Exceptions Test & Minor Developments
Flood Safety
New Page:
Sequential Test

Regulatory Requirements for the Exceptions Test

a. It must be demonstrated that the development provides wider sustainability benefits to the community that outweigh flood risk, informed by a SFRA where one has been prepared.

b. The development should be on developable previously-developed land or, if it is not on previously developed land, that there are no reasonable alternative sites on developable previously-developed land; and

c. A FRA must demonstrate that the development will be safe, without increasing flood

Please feel free to contact the office for an informal discussion regarding your requirements.

In practice the exceptions test relates to larger 5 home plus developments, where meaning sustainability measures can be incorporated that will provide "wider" benefits. However, it is generally the case that even a small single unit development the exception test will have to be carried out. Carrying out the exceptions to in the right manner can make or break an application.

The exceptions test for a small site would be conducted as follows.

Wider Sustainability Benefits

Wider Sustainability Benefits - "The proposed development increases housing density in the area, which will lead to a reduction in transport related emissions. The development will exceed statutory minima with regards to energy efficiency. In line with the code for sustainable homes provisions are made for home working with a study / office area being provided for each dwelling, again potentially reducing transport related emissions".

Other Requirements Considered for "Wider Sustainability Benefit"

In order to pass the Exception Test the proposal must provide sustainability benefits beyond the application site, for the community. Examples of benefits beyond the application site include: 

All these examples provide some benefit to the community beyond the application site.

Exceptions Test - Wider Sustainability Benefit - Case Study 1

There are various things which can be offered up and may be accepted as a wider sustainability benefit. A flood store might be provided on the street frontage, for use of the local flood team. Typically this might measure 2.0m3 in volume and could be used for the storage of equipment such as sand bags and other items which might be useful in a flood event. The site occupier also agrees to establishing a community flood watch in the area, which would disseminate information to local residents such as how to sign up for flood warnings, and safe refuge stocking information.

Brown Field

If you site is previously developed, which would normally include a back garden then this element of the se2untial test can be deemed as passed.

Flood Safety

Talk about flood plans and evacuation routes here. As well as subscription to warning services etc. This would constitute the basic information for flood safety required in exceptions test. However, in areas of high risk, with fast flowing waters at time of flood, this can become a very in depth topic including all sorts of ideas to counteract floods, including safe refuge and even boats. In these instances the Flood Safety element of the Exception test would be met in an additional report a Flood Warning and Evacuation Plan.

Exceptions Test & Minor Developments  

Annex B of PPS25, D15, Minor development, states that applications for minor development and  changes of use should not be subject to the Sequential or Exception Tests but will still have to meet  the requirements for FRAs and flood risk reduction.  Minor developments are unlikely to raise significant flood risk issues unless they would:
a) have an adverse effect on a watercourse, floodplain or its flood defenses;

b) would impede access to flood defense and management facilities; or
c) where the cumulative impact of such developments would have a significant effect on local flood
storage capacity or flood flows.

If it is believed that none of the above will be affected by a development then you may not need to carry out the exceptions or sequential test.