Surface water drainage and major planning applications

General advice to prospective developers and Local Planning Authorities

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government laid a Written Ministerial Statement in the House of Commons on 18 December 2014 setting out changes to planning that will apply for major development from06 April 2015. This confirms that inconsidering planning applications, local planning authorities should consult the relevant Lead Local Flood Authority on the management of surface water; satisfy themselves that the proposed minimum standards of operation are appropriate and ensure through the use of planning conditions or planning obligations that there are clear arrangements in place for ongoing maintenance over the lifetime of the development.

The changes will strengthen existing planning policy to ensure that sustainable drainage systems will be provided in new major developments where appropriate. The planning practice guidance has been updated to reflect these changes and non-statutory technical standards for the design, maintenance and operation of sustainable drainage systems have been published on-line.

DCLG consulted on changes to statutory consultee arrangements for the planning application process in December 2014 and the Government response was published in March 2015. In the response Government agreed there is a need for appropriate technical knowledge and expertise within local government and the role that the Lead Local Flood Authority carries out leaves them well placed to be involved in assessing the surface water drainage proposals including sustainable drainage.

On 24 March 2015, the Government laid a statutory instrument making the Lead Local Flood Authority a statutory consultee by adding the consultation requirement to Schedule 4 of the Development Management Procedure Order. This will come into effect from 15 April 2015.

Please note; an application for reserved matters approval is not an application for planning permission and therefore the statutory requirement to consult the LLFA will not apply. SUDS need to be considered as a whole at the point when planning permission is granted, particularly as there could be an affect on the viability of a development, not at reserved matters stage. In respect of an application for planning permission submitted before the requirement to consult LLFAs comes into force the new statutory consultation requirements will not apply even if determined after 6 April.

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