Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and planning intro

Information on sustainable drainage systems and planning permission for residential and non-residential developments.

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Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) & planning

This section provides information on sustainable drainage systems and planning permission for residential and non-residential developments.

Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) are the preferred approach to managing rainfall from hard surfaces and can be used on any site. The main purpose of SuDS is to mimic the natural drainage of the site before development and reduce flood risk. 

Lead local flood authority as a statutory consultee

Northumberland County Council as the lead local flood authority is a statutory consultee within the planning process.

This was made official when the government laid a statutory instrument, making the lead local flood authority a statutory consultee by adding the consultation requirement to schedule four of the development management procedure order. Part (ze) of schedule four requires us to be a statutory consultee for any ‘major development with surface water drainage'.   

Major development will be: 

  1. Residential development: 10 dwellings or more of residential development with a site area of 0.5 hectares or more, where the number of dwellings is not yet known. 
  2. Non-residential development: provision of a building or buildings where the total floor space to be created is 1000m² or more, or where the floor area is not yet known, a site area of one hectare or more. 

Therefore, any major development that is submitted will require a drainage statement or an extended section within its flood risk assessment looking at the disposal of surface water from the development. 

Use of SuDS in developments and Local Standards

National planning policy requires when determining planning applications, local planning authorities (LPA) should ensure flood risk is not increased elsewhere. Due to increased pressure on the sewerage system and in order to mimic natural drainage, SuDS are generally the preferred method of addressing issues regarding surface water drainage within developments.   

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 to major developments from 6 April 2015.   

The changes will strengthen existing planning policy to ensure SuDS 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 online.   

Therefore, any new development submitted to Northumberland County Council will need to incorporate SuDS within its design. Any submitted scheme will need to adhere to national and local standards.    

The 7 North East LLFAs have agreed a set of regional drainage standards to ensure consistency when reviewing planning applications within the NE region. We have developed 22 standards and a proforma that offers additional guidance when producing drainage statements and flood risk assessments to support planning applications. Please see the standards document and check list below.    

North East LLFA sustainable drainage local standards document 

North East LLFA sustainable drainage local standards check list 

Environment Agency as a statutory consultee

.For any development that is classed within flood zones 2 or 3, or within 20 metres of a main river, the Environment Agency are a statutory consultee.   

Check flood risk - Flood Map for Planning   

Further information on the Environment Agency’s role within the planning process can be found here. 

Further information


Check flood risk: 

The following websites provide useful further information on SuDS: 

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