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SuDS – The “soap” continues

25 February 2015

The provisions of Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 (the “Act”) were intended to help deal with the flooding caused by surface run off overloading existing conventional drainage systems by requiring future developments to include sustainable drainage systems (known as “SuDS”) constructed to a set of uniform national standards (known as the “National Standards”). 

The Act was originally intended to come into force on 1 October 2012, however both major house builders and the local planning authorities (“LPAs”) have expressed serious concerns on a number of grounds which has led to repeated postponements. 

The Act is now expected to come into force on 6 April 2015, but a number of issues remain under review by the government:

  1. To avoid excessive burdens on LPAs, particularly while they are building up their technical capacity, the government proposes that minor developments (9 residential units or fewer) with drainage implications will continue to be subject to existing planning policy.
  2. There is concern over whether LPAs have sufficient capacity and technical expertise to perform their role in approving the SuDS within the statutory required time frames for determining planning applications. The Government is to engage with LPAs on a “capacity building” programme and is considering making Lead Local Flood Authorities statutory consultees for planning purposes. It will monitor the operation of the Act and may use building regulation control as a consenting regime, if it appears more suitable.
  3. The government recognises the importance of having one clear set of National Standards and associated guidance and will continue to develop these.

Clearly, the original proposals caused major concerns for both sides of the proposed consent regime, and it is uncertain whether the remaining issues will be decided by 6 April.

While smaller developers may be relieved to be freed from the regime introduced by the Act, larger developers will need to maintain a watch on this soapy issue.

This article was written by John Adams.

For more information please contact John on +44 (0)20 7203 8983 or john.adams@crsblaw.com