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Calendar 25 September, 2023 (Updated 12 September, 2023)

Sustainable Drainage Systems: What You Need To Know

In January 2023, DEFRA published a report that confirmed they will be introducing mandatory sustainable drainage systems (SUDs) policies for all new developments in England. This is to ensure that new development doesn’t come at the cost of safe, sustainable and habitable environments.

What will this mean for developers purchasing land?

Suitability of the land

To reduce the risks of flooding and run-off pollution, developers will need to incorporate effective surface water and excess storm flow management systems into their projects.

Such measures may raise questions about practical implications and the suitability of the land for the construction and maintenance of SUDs. Local authorities may require sufficient evidence that the proposed development will satisfy building standards before granting approval.

Extra costs

This additional burden on developers will add unwelcome costs to the project as they face a time-consuming process of obtaining drainage plans that incorporate SUDs. 

A solicitor will need to carry out extensive searches as part of the conveyancing process; specialised desktop searches that create a wider picture of the relevant data gleaned from survey results.

Further costs will also be incurred for the construction of the SUDs and professional fees for inspections during the construction process.

Legal implications

Drainage rights should be inspected carefully, as these could inhibit any development of the land. Legal documentation of drainage rights, either through a deed of easement or transfer of title to the new owner, is advised. Legal advice should also be sought on whether an easement will be required to drain surface water over any intervening land, and whether the proposed development might take the structure of the site outside the scope of an existing easement.

If the discharge point of the new SUDs should fall outside the development site, the developer may also need to obtain the consent of a third party. As the cost of maintaining the SUDs ultimately falls on the owner of the land – in this case, the third party – a capital contribution towards the maintenance costs may need to be agreed with the third party. This agreement should also be legally documented.

What is ahead for developers and SUDs?

Further consultations will continue throughout 2023, so developers would be well advised to keep themselves updated on this progress. In the meantime, specialist legal advice from a firm that is competent to carry out the appropriate due diligence and with a detailed knowledge of current and upcoming planning policies is essential.

Drainfast can’t offer professional legal advice on SUDs, but we can supply all the parts you need to construct a sustainable drainage system and can guide you through the design and construction process. You are always welcome to call our friendly team of drainage experts on 01420 555600 or email [email protected].

Vicki James Drainfast Team Portrait

Written by
Vicki James

Sales & Marketing Coordinator

Vicki is a vital part of the marketing team; from reporting to copywriting, she ensures we complete projects on time.

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