Consultation on the delivery of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) in England

Developers and representatives of local government will be pleased to learn that Defra has announced a fresh consultation on the delivery of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in England.

The objective of the consultation is to amend Schedule 3 of the Water and Flood Management Act 2010, which introduced a new consenting regime (separate from the existing planning regime) for the approval of planning applications for SuDS projects. 

In 2012, housebuilders and local government indicated their concerns about the Schedule 3 scheme, particularly the plan for different parts of local government to run the two schemes. They also noted the potential for delay where local authorities were uncertain of or unwilling to take on their new responsibilities, particularly in relation to charging householders for funding and maintaining SuDS. As a result, the implementation of the Schedule 3 scheme was delayed.

The new consultation aims to tackle these concerns by proposing to deliver SuDS through changes to the existing planning regime. Changes proposed:

  • strengthening planning policy to make it clear that SuDS, rather than traditional drainage through pipes and watercourses, will be expected in new developments. (Small developments of nine houses or fewer would be exempt from this expectation);
  • helping to relieve the burden on local planning authorities by recommending that appropriate organisations are invited to comment and provide expert advice on planning applications. Organisations may include sewerage and highway authorities, the Environment Agency and the Canal and River Trust. This proposal would be implemented through amendment to current planning guidance; and
  • requiring SuDS to be maintained for the lifetime of a development through use of detailed planning obligations, which will be subject to the existing enforcement regime.

Depending on the outcome of the consultation, any changes to the planning system will come into force in Spring 2015.

The consultation runs until 24 October 2014. Interested parties can submit their responses by post, email or via the online survey.

For further information please contact Joanna Damerell, Partner and Head of the Commercial Development team, at joanna.damerell@michelmores.com.