Robert Ashcroft
26 April 2016

Lords amend Housing Bill to require sustainable drainage

Requiring developers to deliver sustainable drainage in new developments is an important step towards improving the flood resilience of our communities

In recent weeks, the IES has joined a coalition of organisations representing leading water experts, architects, civil engineers, water companies and NGOs, appealing to the House of Lords to ensure that incoming housing law protects new and existing homes from surface flooding.

Yesterday evening, an amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill tabled by Baroness Kate Parminter, Baroness Barbara Young and Lord John Krebs was pushed to a vote and passed. If the amendment stays in the Bill when it returns to the House of Commons, this change to the law will restrict developers' automatic right to directly connect new houses to existing drainage systems – many of which are already over-loaded – and compel them to integrate low-cost measures known as sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), which compensate for the additional flow that new developments create.

The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 legislated to this effect, but the law was never implemented. Instead, planning guidelines were produced to require SuDS, but the measure has been toothless in promoting greater flood risk mitigation on new developments and has failed to promote the added benefits of sustainable drainage for water quality, biodiversity and amenity.

This change effectively requires developers to build in ways for rainwater to soak away on site, rather than piping it through the sewer system directly to flooding pressure points. Requiring developers to deliver sustainable drainage in new developments is an important step towards improving the flood resilience of our communities, and more effectively protecting UK homes from flooding. Such schemes also have the potential to deliver welcome improvements in the local environment.

In advance of the vote, the story was reported by the Guardian, and has since been mentioned in coverage of the Bill by several publications.

The full list of organisations which supported the amendment can be found here.

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