Environment Bulletin: SUDS - The soap goes on...

From 6 April 2015, planning authorities will now require sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) for the management of run-off from "major developments" in England, unless these are "demonstrated to be inappropriate".

There is no guidance on what is meant by "inappropriate", though previously the government has considered whether SUDS would not be required where their cost exceeds that of using conventional drainage."

Major developments" include one or more of the following

Developments of 10 dwellings or more;residential developments on a site of 0.5ha or more where the number of dwellings is not known;

developments with floor space of 1000m2 or more; development on a site of 1ha or more; minerals development;

or waste development.consult the relevant lead local flood authority(the unitary authority or county council) on surface water management of the scheme;

satisfy themselves that the proposed minimum standards of operation are appropriate; 

and use planning conditions or planning obligations to ensure clear arrangements are in place for maintenance of SUDS over the lifetime of the development.

Early consideration of integration of SUDS into master planning of development schemes for "major developments";

Early discussions with water authorities about adoption or consideration of long-term maintenance arrangements;

Maximising the amenity and biodiversity benefits of SUDS to enhance the planning application; and

Where a scheme is close to the "major development" threshold, careful consideration of whether SUDS would work in the scheme or whether the scheme viability would be improved by falling outside of the "major development" criteria.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.