Planning policy is encouraging SUDS in new developments, ministry review finds

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government last week published a report examining how national planning policies for sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) are reflected in local plans and the uptake of these systems across a range of housing and commercial developments in England. It is more than three years since national planning policy for SUDS was strengthened to make SUDS a requirement in all new major developments.

The review found:

  • Current arrangements for SuDS in planning has been successful in encouraging the take-up of sustainable drainage systems in a cross-section of new developments with almost 90% of all approved planning applications sampled featuring SuDS.

  • While national planning policy has a clear role to play in facilitating the delivery of SuDS, other factors, such as arrangements around sharing good practice and innovation can also influence the uptake in new developments MHCLG said: “There is potential for industry bodies to address skills and knowledge gaps through streamlined and updated industry guidance.”

  • The ability or otherwise of a development to connect to the public sewer is not a key determinant on whether SuDS feature in development proposals. As yet, there is no evidence to suggest that adoption by maintenance companies is problematic, with only two authorities able to recall an instance of where SuDS schemes required remedial action.

  • Government recognises that more emphasis on SuDS adoption and maintenance arrangements by applicants is required, so authorities can be satisfied that clear maintenance arrangements are in place for the lifetime of the development. The Department said it has reviewed relevant sections of the National Planning Policy Framework, and published a revised Framework in July. The government will update the planning guidance to reflect changes made to the Framework in autumn 2018.