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Self-jacking house to combat flooding

The Larkfleet elevating house

A property developer has applied for planning permission to build an experimental house that could rise on jacks above flood waters.

The developer behind the scheme, Larkfleet Group, said that if tests were successful, the house could provide a model that would enable house building on thousands of sites across the UK that cannot currently be developed because of the risk of flooding.

If planning permission is granted by South Holland District Council, the group said that it planned to build a three-bedroom detached house in Weston Hills, near Spalding, Lincolnshire that could be raised up to 1.5m above ground level by eight mechanical jacks.

Work on constructing the house, which will sit on a steel ring beam in place of conventional foundations, could begin in early 2017. The company said that experiments with raising and lowering the house – including testing long-term maintenance and operation of the jacking system – would run for up to five years.

Larkfleet added that the modular steel-frame design of the house will allow it to be disassembled and re-erected on another site on conventional foundations as a family residence.

The company explained that it anticipated that houses of this design would be jacked up well ahead of the arrival of flood waters, based on advance warnings from organisations such as the Environment Agency. However, the mechanical jacking system – powered by a central motor, gear box and drive shafts – could lift the 65t house to the full 1.5m height above ground in less than five minutes.

It said that rooftop solar panels and a battery would provide the house with some continuing electricity supply when raised above the ground, and the water and sewage systems would remain connected through flexible hoses.

However, the company said that it did not envisage that residents would remain in occupation during floods. Instead, the householders are expected to pack up, lock up and jack up the home before taking refuge in temporary accommodation on higher ground elsewhere.

“The elevating house effectively eliminates the risk of flood damage to homes so that more land across the country can be approved for future home building. This will help to tackle the ‘housing crisis’ that is being caused by the demand for new housing far exceeding the supply,” said Larkfleet Group chief executive Karl Hick.

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