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Planning and Flood Risk in Exeter

Increasing flood risk is one of the most high-profile consequences of climate change. It is vital that flood risk is considered at an early stage in the development process.

The links below provide important information on flood risk in Exeter and should be used to help inform planning proposals. Specifically, these links will help you to:

  • Determine whether you need a flood risk assessment as part of your planning application 
  • Establish what flood zone your proposal is in
  • Request flood risk data, including historical flood information
  • Check for Main Rivers, Ordinary Watercourse and Flood Defences
  • Gain an understanding of surface water flow paths

If you need a flood risk assessment to accompany your planning application, you will normally need a flood risk specialist to carry it out.

Please also note that we offer a pre-application advice service if you require guidance before making a formal application.


Flood risk guidance, mapping, and data

Government guidance on the need for a flood risk assessment.

Mapped flood risk from rivers, sea and estuaries (including information on flood zones and flood defences).

Mapped long term flood risk (from rivers, sea and surface water).

Historic instances of flooding.

Mapped groundwater flood risk.

South West Water Drainage and wastewater management plan.


Areas with critical drainage problems

There are currently no Critical Drainage Areas within the Exeter City Council administrative area, but this is under review.


Other useful links

Below are some other useful links that will help ensure you have fully considered the implications of flood risk, and taken appropriate measures to reduce flood risk, for your proposed development.


Devon County Council Flood Risk Management

A useful source of advice on flood risk management, including Government/Council/landowner’s responsibilities, local flood schemes, flood history and guidance/best practice on flood resilience and management.


Sustainable Drainage Systems

All applications for major development need to incorporate Sustainable Drainage Systems. Guidance is available in this document:

Sustainable Drainage System - Guidance for Devon (2023) - Flood Risk Management


Works within or near to a watercourse

If you need to carry out work in, over, above or within 8m of a Main River or Flood Defence, then you may need to apply for a Flood Risk Activities Permit from the Environment Agency. You can use the online Flood map for planning to find out about main rivers and flood defences in your area. Further guidance on environmental permits is also available.

If you need to carry out works in an Ordinary Watercourse, then you need to apply for Land Drainage Consent from Devon County Council. You can find information on the consenting process on Devon County Council’s land drainage consent webpage.

You can also apply online for land drainage consent from Devon County Council.


Property Flood Resilience Funding Scheme

Devon County Council is committed to increasing community flood resilience in Devon. They are supported by DEFRA to deliver property flood resilience measures.



When this content has been updated

Last updated 1 February 2024