Kensington residents seek answers after 900 homes designated as flood-prone

Flood meeting Kensington
Brendan Rees

More than 200 residents have packed the Kensington Town Hall to express their concern over their properties being reclassified as flood-prone by Melbourne Water, with many reporting a lack of information or communication.

Under the new modelling, around 9000 homes in the Kensington Banks Estate were designated as being at risk of floods “in a one-in-one-hundred-year flood event” after its 2003 modelling for the Maribyrnong River catchment was revised.

According to Melbourne Water, the recast flood mapping, first released in April, “differs from previous modelling due to a range of factors, including the impact of climate change, the impact of urban development across the catchment, and the higher-quality modelling that is now available”.

A Melbourne Water spokesperson said the additional updated mapping released in May “helps to illustrate flood depth information. It complements the previously released mapping of flood extents”.

But residents say the new modelling has raised more questions than answers while creating uncertainty about their insurance premiums going up and property values potentially reducing.

In response, Melbourne Greens State MP Ellen Sandell and Victorian Greens MLC for the Norther Metropolitan Region Samantha Ratnam convened a meeting at the Kensington Town Hall on June 4.



Many residents raised questions about the accuracy of Melbourne Water’s modelling and called for it to be reviewed or for other modelling to be done by an independent body.

They also called for mitigation measures to be a priority, while other questions were centred around government compensation and whether property buybacks were on the table, or if a class action could be pursued.

Residents also raised questions about the Flemington Racecourse’s controversial 1.6-kilometre flood wall built in 2007, with calls for the wall to be taken down following major flooding in 2022 and for independent modelling to be done on its impacts.

Ms Sandell is calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the floods to be extended so that Melbourne Water and the state government can be brought back to answer some important questions.

“These families bought their [Kensington Banks] houses in good faith, informed that they were constructed on elevated land and above flood levels. We are talking about people with mortgages who invested their life savings into these homes,” she said.

“Now these 900 families are being told the state government advice they relied upon was wrong. They deserve answers and action from the Labor Government.”

She said questions needed to be asked about “how they got the modelling so wrong in the first place, what they will do about it, whether they will demand the racecourse flood wall be torn down, and whether they will provide support or compensation to the 900 families who will be significantly affected by this.”

“The racecourse flood wall must also be torn down. An independent report showed the wall built around the Flemington Racetrack increased water levels by six centimetres in Kensington – so why won’t the State Labor Government remove the wall? Horse racing and gambling should not be more important than people’s homes and lives”.

Lauren, a Kensington Banks resident of seven years (pictured below with her family), went to the meeting after a receiving a lack of information from Melbourne Water.



“It’s the first time we’ve experienced dealing with Melbourne Water and it’s becoming fast apparent that they don’t seem like a trustworthy source of information,” she told North West City News.

“Why release the first map when you had more information? Another point is that a lot of homeowners don’t even know about what’s occurring. If you are an investor, all they’ve done is letterbox drops with flyers.”

Lauren, who asked for her surname to be withheld, said she wanted to know what could be done to mitigate flood risk in the area. In the meantime, she is not sure if her insurance premium will go up.

“I think Kensington Banks has a strong community to it. We are definitely a collective voice,” she said.

The Planning Institute of Australia’s (PIA) Victorian division vice-president, Jane Keddie, said it was strongly advocating for the state government to take the lead in identifying areas of hazard on flood-prone maps, so the community was better informed.

“We’re really keen to see a shift in how we communicate flood risk. At the moment our flood maps, in a planning context, only show the extent so they don’t show the level of hazard,” she said.

“We’re calling for greater clarity between areas of high risk and areas of moderate and low risk. People’s houses are very important to them and having transparency around which areas are subject to high levels of hazard is therefore also important.”


In the case of Kensington Banks, a map has been released that shows the extent of an area that’s subject to flooding but there is no immediate indication as to the level of hazard – residents are being advised to contact Melbourne Water, which can lead to unnecessary concern.


Melbourne-based insurance mediator Chris Rodd said it was inevitable that premiums would go up, which he described as a “horrendous” outcome for homeowners.

“If they do flood modelling that indicates that certain properties fall within a flood zone then they [insurance providers] will charge a premium that is commensurate with what they see is the probability of flooding,” he told North West City News.

But Mr Rodd said, “frankly I don’t see that what’s going on at the moment is acceptable. I think this situation in Maribyrnong is appalling, absolutely appalling, and the government seems to be washing its hands of it.”

“To see their premiums going up and effectively finding themselves with uninsurable risks is horrendous.”

“The real question, I suppose, as it arises here, is will the residents look at taking some sort of class action against the authority that approved this, say, Melbourne Water for example.”

Asked if climate change was a factor to consider in the flood remodelling, Mr Rodd acknowledged “climate changes are exacerbating the problem, but I’m sorry the construction of that levy bank at Flemington Racecourse massively changed the whole flood profile”.

“In that regard I think the people who live along the Maribyrnong River are entitled to be aggrieved by what is being vested upon them.”

In response to the idea of a home buyback scheme being floated, Mr Rodd said that “might work in remote in rural areas where the cost of purchasing is not quite as high, but you’re not going to start buying back properties along the Maribyrnong River”.

City of Melbourne environment portfolio lead Cr Rohan Leppert said new mapping from Melbourne Water “has created uncertainty and raised a lot of questions”.

“Plenty of Kensington Banks residents are distressed, and understandably so.”

“Melbourne Water is still a long way from a clear explanation of the basis for the new modelling and the impacts for individual properties, but for the sake of our community and residents throughout the catchment, that is the challenge they must rise to.”

Legalise Cannabis MP and Kensington resident, David Ettershank, also supported the flood inquiry being extended.

“This committee was set up to expressly investigate Victoria’s preparedness for and response to Victoria’s major flooding event of 2022, and I’d say rezoning 900 houses as a result of the floods definitely falls under the banner of ‘response’,” he said.

“The inquiry should not close without endeavouring to find answers to these questions. I’m not prepared to leave a job half done.”

In a statement, Melbourne Water said for a flood event with a one per cent chance of occurring in any given year at Kensington Banks, the average flood depth in the flood-affected area was 0.5 metres.

“However, the potential impact of a one per cent flood event on properties would be unique to each property,” it said.

“Given the unique circumstances of each property, we strongly encourage all Kensington Banks residents to reach out to Melbourne Water directly by calling 131 722 or emailing us via [email protected].” •

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