The plans to expand the site of the Emu Plains Correctional Centre, which is currently a women's jail housing up to 56 inmates, to a women's jail housing 250 inmates and a maximum security men's jail housing 400 in mates have been canned.
The reasons given were community concerns and flood prone land.
What is flood prone land?
It is not the case that you cannot build on flood prone land, many developments occur on flood prone land. Flood prone land is simply subject to Floodplain Management.
We have taken the following information from Penrith City Council's website:
Floodplain management plans are being put together for areas most at risk of flooding, looking at the causes and extent of possible flooding and what can be done to help affected areas. Reducing the risk of future flooding requires managing flood-prone areas properly with responsible development and drainage infrastructure.
We have 40 creek systems and associated catchment areas, all draining into either the Nepean River or South Creek, and all have been identified as requiring comprehensive floodplain risk management studies and plans.
Council will put a flood notation on the s149 certificate for any property identified by flood studies as being flood prone and that may attract flood related development controls.
If you want to build on or further develop your land, Council assesses applications based on current zoning information. If your land has flood related development controls it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to build, however some factors may need to be taken into consideration to alleviate risk to life and property. You may be asked to build on a certain part of your land or elevate your building to a certain height. Council’s development services team can help with your enquiry.
Can you build on flood prone land?
Quite frankly, without wanting to sound to cynical, it depends on who is asking. In the case of the Olympic site, the Sydney International Regatta Centre, a flood plain was actually created.
It is difficult to get information about the actual flood plane from the Penrith City Council website, but this brochure from the State Library sets out (admittedly dated) flood plains for a once in 20 year flood, 50 year flood and 100 year flood. You can view a high resolution version of this brochure by clicking on the image to the left, or by following this link.
Any local who looks at this brochure will fairly quickly be able to identify locations where the Council has allowed developers to build housing estates, and the concerns raised in relation to the jail must apply here, particularly the concerns about evacuation routes when the housing estates tend to have only two exit points. Remember that this brochure is too old to have taken into account the flood planes created by the development of the Olympic site.
This is not to say that all development on a flood plane is bad or shouldn't go ahead, just that it is interesting to note when this is seen as a problem.
What should I do?
As always, if you are having trouble with a development application, or your property is on flood prone land and you want to know what that means for you, you should make an appointment to speak with Bruce Coode.
Bruce Coode has many years of experience helping people to understand the impact that various council regulations have on their property, and helping people with their applications to local council for various rights including development applications. In addition to working for individual clients in private practice as a solicitor for all that time, he was a legal advisor to three local councils for many years, and has lectured in real estate law at university. There will be no charge for your initial consultation, and he will be able to let you know what the next step is.