Houses on Stilts - Back to the Future?

Posted by heather on Tue 19 Feb 08 at 12:25pm

In 300 BC people living on the Somerset Levels built their homes on stilts to keep out of the water.

Perhaps now is the time to follow their example?

TV coverage of rivers bursting their banks and flooding houses and shops show people miserably looking out from first floor windows.
If the ground floor rooms under their feet weren't full of floating, ruined furniture and sodden possesions they might be smiling at being the centre of attention.

On the banks of the River Ouse near Lewes in Sussex, an area that regularly foods, two new houses have been built - on stilts. They're on the site of an old boat house that had been constructed on posts to keep it above rising water. These new houses have their own moorings on the river and are very much at the luxury end of the housing market but is there any reason why lower price homes couldn't be built so that flood water would simply pass underneath them?

Planning permission is being given to build thousands of new homes on known floodplains. Are they being built on the assumption that future flooding can be prevented? Who would take responsibility if 'the best laid plans', as so often happens, go astray?

Insurance companies are already talking about uninsurable new houses in areas of high risk. How about making an advantage of future watery threats? Developers could make a selling point of being near water, include new ponds and waterways on estates designed for occasional floods. If access roads were built above the surrounding land and houses were up in the air out of the way, a flood could be seen as exciting, like heavy snow.

It might be a step backwards in housing design that becomes a big step forward.

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