26 Mar 2012
So, the consultation on the National SuDS Standards is closed, and we are all eagerly awaiting the outcome.
The draft standards are much as expected, but I am surprised, and more than a little concerned, that they contain such an unmanageable get out clause allowing any development to be exempt from SUDS if the SUDS system is more costly than a traditional system to construct.
How on earth do you make a sensible comparison, when the whole layout of the site would quite likely be different if you were installing a traditional drainage system? My concern is that developers will produce a tight site layout without a SUDS system, and claim that SUDS is more expensive because they cannot fit in as many houses. Also, how to you take into account the pollution control and amenity value of a well-designed SUDS scheme? And do you need to prove the cost of an undersigned traditional system as a comparison? If so, at least the quantity surveyors will be in business for some time to come.
I mention amenity value, but of course this was not even mentioned in the draft Standards, nor was biodiversity. We have to hope that these are covered in the guidance when it comes.
In the meantime, Local Authorities are gearing up to implement the approval process, which I anticipate will be somewhat more straightforward in a unitary council where at least the SAB and planning process will sit under the same umbrella, unlike the county/district split elsewhere.
I am well aware that all of these points, and many more, were fed back in the consultation responses, and so we wait to see how much it has been addressed, but more in hope than expectation.