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Flood cash well spent

Following the floods that hit Britain and its car dealers this summer, is it worth planning ahead to tackle the possibility of further problems in the future?

Stephen Russell, managing director of Ringways Group, believes so after his Leeds dealership’s stock was saved by the water attenuation tanks he had installed when the site was built.

Russell said: “When we were building the £6 million Ford dealership, an engineer suggested the idea of water attenuation tanks in case of flooding. It was an additional cost of £500,000 but it ended up saving my stock when the floods hit.”

Russell knew the site was being developed on a flood plain and had the option to approve or disapprove the spend on flood defence.

“The attenuation tanks were empty for four years until the floods came. They took 29,260 gallons of flood water and slowly released it through the council’s sewer system. Our stock didn’t take any damage, even though the water was running down the high street,” he said.

Russell believes it is worth factoring in attenuation tanks if a dealer is building in a high-risk flood area. Rob Hilton, director of Colliers CRE, the property consultants, said there are other options for dealers worried about the possibility of flooding.

Hilton said: “The problem with attenuation tanks is that they’re extremely expensive and you can’t build any structures on top of them. You need a lot of space, which is usually taken up by the main building site. However, you could build a customer car park over the top of one.”

He said Colliers makes sure every new development has a full flood protection survey before work starts.

“We will only build on parts of the site which have no history of being flooded before and if they were, we would build in the least affected area.

“Ultimately, if the site is at high risk my best advice would be not to build there,” he added.

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