Article first appeared in November 2014 NAPE newsletter.
The latest Government proposals say that from Spring 2015 all new development comprising of 10 new dwellings or more is going to be required to have a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS). These drainage systems are designed to drain surface water slowly into land around the development, rather than routing run off through a pipe into the main drains. The idea behind SUDS is to help relieve pressure on our existing drainage systems in the event of high rainfall which can be a major cause of flooding.
A recent shift in these proposals, means that the implementation of SUDS and their maintenance "to a minimum level of effectiveness" throughout its lifetime, are now going to be controlled through the planning system and thus will the responsibility of the local planning authority. This in turn means that each authority’s planning enforcement team are going to be expected to be involved in the implementation and monitoring process.
Critics of the scheme point to the fact that many local authority enforcement teams are already overburdened with work and that this adds yet a further layer of responsibility. The effectiveness with which local authorities can enforce these planning conditions, given their limited resources and lack of expert knowledge in this area, is questionable. The RTPI in its response (seen here) to the Government’s consultation paper has already raised a number of concerns. However, all current indications point to the fact that the proposals are likely to come into effect next year.
Therefore it may be worth starting to consider how local authorities are going to manage this additional responsibility. A good starting point may be early discussions between planners, drainage experts (if a local authority has such a person) and the enforcement team with a view to publishing some kind of local guidance on this matter. Within a Local Enforcement Plan would be a good place to set out how the authority intends to manage this as it would essentially form part of monitoring the implementation of planning permissions within their area. Further proof, if any were needed, of the importance of Local Enforcement Plans.
Ivy Legal Ltd.