Once again, the Calder Valley has been in the news following flooding. Like other parts of the country affected by the recent storms, many people have suffered, and our hearts go out to them. However, I want to echo the sentiments of the Hebden Bridge Business Forum – We rally in this valley!
Most businesses have been able to bounce back very quickly, due to flood resilience measures having been taken following the Boxing Day floods of 2015. Unfortunately, it is never quite so easy for residents to recover and whilst it is devastating for those affected, I want to point out that only a minority of homes in Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd have been affected. Our valley is still a great place to live and work and we must not be put off by the negative press coverage that we see.
Visitors to our towns have commented again and again about what a wonderful helpful community we have. Our Flood Hubs, with support from the local council and various voluntary organisations, have been vital in helping people get back on their feet; providing comfort, food, cleaning products and invaluable advice. Our team of Flood Wardens – all volunteers - keep residents and business owners up to date with social media posting as well as being on the ground in times of need.
The Trades Club in Hebden Bridge and the Golden Lion in Todmorden have already organized events in aid of flood victims. We have expert knowledge in the valley and it is hoped that the Environment Agency will listen to the concerns and suggestions from local people before embarking on the next stage of flood defences. These are due to start in Hebden Bridge centre this Autumn.
I am always asked how floods affect property values and whether there is a fall in sales enquiries after flood events. Having lived and worked through so many now, I do seem to be a reluctant expert in such maters!
If a property is in the high risk flood zone and it has been affected by recent flooding then of course it will be difficult to sell. The fact that the recent flood alleviation measures failed to protect homes in Mytholmroyd gives cause for concern because many people really thought these homes would be protected going forwards. The fact that climate change means flooding will be an ongoing issue means that buyers will be reluctant to take a gamble on such property and mortgage lenders will be reluctant to lend on high risk property. Homes continually affected by flooding will inevitably see their values plummet. Of course, the flood defences in Mytholmroyd are unfinished and once completed they will offer more protection but they will never eliminate all risk.
As I have said, most homes in our valley are not affected by flooding and so property values will remain buoyant. The fact that building land is not easy to find in the valley maintains the value of existing stock – all the time out of town buyers want to relocate to our areas means that populations will continue to grow. Hopefully going forward, planners will think very carefully before granting permission for new build property on the valley bottom. This lack of new build again serves to maintain the values for the existing housing stock.
If your home has been affected by flooding and you want to sell, it is important that you are open and honest and declare everything up front. Consumer Protection Regulations mean you cannot misrepresent or conceal material facts about your property without breaking the law. Likewise, if you are buying a property with flood risks and concerns, you should be informed about all the relevant information and then it is up to you to make a judgement call. Flood resilience measures can be implemented to minimise disruption. It may be that at the right price, despite the risk, you are happy to buy a property in a “danger” zone. Despite the flooding, the Calder Valley is still a beautiful place to live and work and we have wonderful communities here.