The rush to build one million new homes in England by 2020 is set to increase flooding by overwhelming drains, according to the nation’s building and flooding professionals.

The Guardian reports that the risk could be avoided if the government ends its seven-year freeze on implementing legal requirements for new developments to include sustainable drainage systems (Suds), such as ponds, green roofs and permeable paving. These slow the flow of water into drains, cutting the risk of floods.

Flash flooding, where heavy rain overwhelms sewers, is already the most frequent type of flooding and costs about £260m a year.

Flood risk is also expected to rise as climate change is leading to more intense rainstorms. But at present new housing developments can simply connect to existing drains, increasing the risk of floods.

A law requiring new developments to include SuDS was passed in 2010 but the government put the rules on hold, aiming to save developers money and speed up house-building.

Now a report by a coalition of professional institutions finds the policy freeze has not sped up house building and has put homes at risk of flooding, without saving money.

The report urges the government to use a current review to finally implement the rules.

Terry Fuller, chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, one of the organisations that produced the report, said: “We recognise the urgent need for 1m new homes but it is pointless to build in a way that creates flood risk for the future.”

Paul Cobbing, head of the National Flood Forum which represents flood-prone communities across the country, added: “People living with the threat of flooding are deeply worried about how new developments will increase their flood risk. It’s undoubtedly the biggest problem we hear about, along with insurance.

“We run the risk of thousands suffering the devastating effects of flooding much more frequently. We need to take action to ensure we’re creating and building flood-resilient communities for today and for 30 years’ time.”

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