Lincoln Eastern Growth Zone

An experimental plan to build on a flood plain.

This is an idea for a residential development that, unlike other schemes, would not damage the environment or drastically worsen the problems of Lincoln’s already overloaded road system.  This scheme is designed to work specifically on a flood plain by allowing floating homes to rise and fall with changes in water levels.  It is also capable of considerable expansion.

This scheme is ideally suited to the north bank of the River Witham downstream from the city center, where the North Delph drain could be widened to provide a suitable area of water.  The excavated spoils would be used to raise the level of the land to the north of the river, as it rises toward Greetwell Road, with the aim of moving the 10 metre contour line closer to the river.  This elevated land would be higher than all recorded flood water levels and could be used for more conventional housing.  The whole development could extend as far as Five Mile Bridge near Fiskerton or beyond.  See the maps below.

There are many benefits to this scheme, more than just building dwellings:

  • there would be little extra pressure on the road system during construction, because once earth moving plant arrives on site then only the workforce would be entering and leaving until the completion of excavations; 
  • after a period of land settlement, more homes could be built on the newly raised land between the marina and Greetwell Road;
  • this new facility would have the added value of bringing new employment opportunities to the city; 
  • there is a convenient space south of the Allenby Trading estate where houseboats could be manufactured in a purpose-built facility adjacent to the river; 
  • a short railway siding feeding off the main line from Lincoln to Grimsby by Allenby Close could be built to supply this facility, thereby not impinging on the local road network; 
  • eventually, this new rail access could be extended, passing under the new eastern relief road, to provide a light rail link with trams connecting the development with the rest of the city; 
  • a significant proportion of these new homes could be built as Artisan Housing, providing opportunities for small business start-ups, which will become more important as the nature of work is redefined;
  • people working from home would give rise to higher than normal levels of day-time occupancy which would lead to a stronger sense of community;
  • the creation of a reservoir that could hold large quantities of water would allow much more effective control of flood waters at times of heavy rainfall by slowing the progress of water to lower lying areas further downstream.
  • residents of a future Eastern Growth Zone would be less likely to commute out of the city than residents on the city’s west side due to longer travel times;

Construction of floating homes would not be complicated, using rafts to support prefabricated homes.  The construction of homes under controlled conditions inside a factory offers the possibility of building to passive house standards relatively cheaply.  

At present, the land in question is not highly valued because it floods. The spoils gained by excavation could be used to raise adjacent land levels to escape future floods, and this would have the additional benefit of not having to be disposed of elsewhere.  Road access would be via Greetwell Road and pedestrian and cycle access to the city would be directly along the river bank, already a car-free zone.  Public transport could be by tram or light railway, joining existing tracks near Allenby Close, or by bus with current services running along Greetwell Road and Fiskerton Road.

There are stretches of the River Witham where fields are worked right up to the waterside, and there are no sites of special interest. It would be a relatively easy task to dig out a new pool right next to the river and use it for residential housing.  This would not be exclusive housing in gated communities, like the marina at Burton Waters, but more affordable housing which could be either rented or sold.  A non-exclusive residential marina would be cheap to build and individual homes would be unlikely to attract large increases in value due to their unconventional nature.  

This area would be eminently suitable for low cost or social housing because the value of the land is low due to flood risk.  Floating homes could be let or sold, or moorings could be let to accommodate privately owned houseboats.  Purpose-built houseboats would be difficult to enlarge so their value would remain fairly constant.  This low-cost in-perpetuity development would make available a constant supply of housing for first time buyers or renters who would be likely to move on to larger accommodation after a period of time and subject to the needs of growing families, therefore making these dwellings available for future first time buyers or renters at a reasonable cost.

When complete, there would be a strip of marginal wetland between land and water that would not be damaged by changing water levels and that would form a useful area of amenity land.  This would be enhanced by a comprehensive tree planting program that would provide shelter belts in an otherwise flat and exposed area, and would to stabilise the ground, and would help provide extra drainage through transpiration.

If it is deemed necessary to build a large number of new homes in Lincoln then this plan could provide up to 4000 units between the Eastern Relief Road and Five Mile Bridge.  The scheme is both eco-sensitive and sustainable and a local company could be established to undertake these building works.  As the first city to welcome the issue of building homes on a flood plain in this way, Lincoln would gain kudos as an imaginative and forward-looking city.

Yellow line identifies possible area of development (subject to survey);Blue line identifies the area that could be used to manufacture houseboats.

Aerial views courtesy of Google earth

Comparison of flood risk areas on east and west sides of Lincoln easting=497504&northing=371159&map=SurfaceWater

Ordinance Survey map courtesy of x=497515&y=371401&z=120&sv=lincoln&st=3&tl=Map+of+Lincoln,+Lincolnshire+ [City/Large+Town]&searchp=ids.srf&mapp=map.srf

Insurance companies historical flood risk map courtesy of