Planning Officers Struggling to Make Sense of SuDS Guidance Muddle

Written By: Managing Director, Illman Young

Image courtesy of Illman Young

Now that the dust has settled over the elections, its time to think about where we are going with SuDS, and it will be interesting to see what changes, if any, will be made now that the heavy influence of Eric Pickles has been removed.

We ended the last government with the ridiculous situation that the water management muddle under which we currently operate in England has only got worse – legislation curtailed part-way through the process, and a whole host of issues left hanging unresolved or abandoned, such as how new housing sites can be adopted, and no removal of the automatic right to connect to a sewer for those same new houses. At the same time, SuDS are only considered necessary in areas which already flood, which utterly misses the point. It’s also required on all new development of 10 houses or more, but only if ‘appropriate’. It’s not surprising that Planning Officers and their authorities are struggling to know how to implement such vague and unco-ordinated ‘planning guidance’.

We hear from planning colleagues of the problems they have in understanding how to provide appropriate guidance around SuDS, what to require for both outline and detailed planning applications, with many not having the necessary backup of a good SuDS policy base or SPDs. They also consider, rightly from their point of view, that SuDS is just another thing to be taken into account in the ‘planning mix’, as they would with anything else that is not covered by a legislative requirement – but completely wrong from the point of view of the potential long-term drainage impact of new buildings on the proposed development itself and its down-stream neighbours.

The only silver lining to this black cloud (which will rain down heavily on us some time soon, if El Niño has anything to do with it, but not until after the summer drought…), is that retrofitting is moving forwards slowly and steadily in many of our towns and cities, from Cardiff to Kent, and Torquay to Glasgow, with even London dipping its toes in the water a little more seriously… …

Funding is being found in both small and large amounts, and partnerships are being formed with local companies, LEPS, BIDs and water companies, and local communities are being positively engaged with the process. Perhaps some aspects of localism have some benefit after all? However it happens, we need to nibble away at the existing problem of flooding in our towns and cities by retrofitting, all the time, everywhere, and we can all contribute towards solving that problem.

So if you want to see how you can contribute, or want to explain how SuDS can help solve flooding to family, friends or colleagues, watch the Let’s get Nibbling! video for a short, simple and amusing explanation.

Widget Image - Lets Get Nibbling

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