Legislation for Scotland increasingly requires that environmental enhancement schemes must be integral in property construction. With the introduction of the Water Framework Directive and the Water Environment and Water Services Act, developments on areas surrounding an existing watercourse often include river restoration and sustainable flood alleviation schemes. To support this, a decision-making tool is proposed that considers the hazard, exposure and vulnerability of a residential development to flooding. Rather than assessing flood risk purely in terms of hydraulic performance, it is shown that appropriate channel design selection also requires information on the socio-economic impacts. This paper takes a novel stance in predicting the social impact of flooding by using statistical evaluation of census data. This holistic approach to flood risk investigation is suitable for use by developers, planners and councils at a local (development) scale to strategically aid flood alleviation works, emergency planning and housing development. Journal compilation © 2008 CIWEM.