OS Flood Proof Homes 2
The homes would sit on stilts above ground level

Oldham to consider flood-proof homes

Dan Whelan

Manchester-based architect Ollier Smurthwaite is seeking approval for five flood-proof homes on land in a flood zone off Ladcastle Road in Oldham.

The one-acre site, which sits in a valley between the villages of Uppermill and Dobcross, is bounded by the River Tame, making the area susceptible to flooding.

The firm hopes the homes, which would be built on behalf of local developer Energon Cube, will be approved in the coming weeks now a planning application has been submitted.

The four-bedroom houses will be built from natural materials and sit on stilts, lifting them above the ground to leave the natural floodplain of the river untouched and able to accommodate flooding when required.

The homes are designed to be “off-grid” and to benefit instead from solar panels and a ground source heat pump. There are also plans to use the river as the water source for the development.

This approach to house building could combat the effects of climate change, which has seen swathes of the UK flooded over the last two weeks.

OS Flood Proof Homes

The David Chipperfield-designed River and Rowing Museum, which sits on the banks of the river Thames, is cited by the architect as a key precedent for the Oldham development.

The museum, which is raised on concrete stilts, is located in an area prone to flooding when water levels rise due to heavy rainfall.

Matthew Ollier, partner at Ollier Smurthwaite, said: “It is not every day you get to design something in a flood zone. Historically, building in a flood zone has been done with little or no consideration and displaces water from an existing floodplain and moves the problem elsewhere.

“The intention is that the development should have minimal impact on the natural flora and fauna and leave it as undisturbed as possible. Rather than surrounding the houses with conventional fencing and planting, the natural materials of the houses sit in the natural landscape.”

When asked if his firm was planning any similar projects, Ollier confirmed it is looking at other sites close to urban centres where it hopes to apply the same philosophy. He said: “I think everybody has got to [find solutions]; it’s the way to stop us all killing the planet.”

Paul Butler Associates is planner for the project, while talks with a potential landscape architect are ongoing.

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they look beautiful

By Anonymous

It would be far better to leave these areas near rivers that flood alone, and build houses in a more suitable environment. Building houses in unsuitable locations is plain stupid, and building houses on stilts is ridiculous. I for one wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole.

By Hazel

Are you serious? Building on flood plains is ridiculous, putting houses on legs so THEY dont flood is irresponsible. The local houses that have been there for many many years will be at risk of flooding because of this

By Sue Lackenby


By Tyler

Excellent scheme


Or don’t build on a floodplain in the first place?

By Disgruntled Goat

I mean they do look nice to be fair, and I would love some housing like this going up rather than the row after row of dull we currently have – but can’t help but echo everyone else. There is little need to build on flood planes, leave them alone. We have plenty of land supply elsewhere.

By Daveboi

No matter how well they are built, not sure you would be able to get any building insurance on these

By jabjabjab

Look on the bright side – live there and get close (very close) to nature when it rains! I wonder how often the stilts will need to be checked for tensile strength? Good luck to all who choose to live there!

By Antsy

I’d be interested to see how vehicular access to the site would be designed, managed and controlled.
We’re going to need to start thinking about incorporating some of these designs into areas which are less likely to flood as the chances are these areas will also become more susceptible in the future.
Better keep a blow up kayak handy just in case though!

By L

I’m all for exploring ways to build in flood zones and can see the benefits of doing so (you only have to look to the Netherlands for some great examples). However unless vehicular access/infrastructure is fully considered and essentially raised above GL, schemes like these could set a dangerous precedent moving forwards. Housing estates with cars floating around and no access in or out for residents in the event of severe flooding doesn’t sound too appealing.