16Jun 2017

A place for SuDS?

Paul Shaffer, CIRIA/susdrain


Of course there is! So we know that SuDS makes sense yet examples of good SuDS delivery, particularly in residential developments remain frustratingly patchy.


I like many others have responded to various consultations on plans to help mainstream the delivery of SuDS in England over recent years. My parting shot in my last response to a consultation was that if there wasn’t political leadership from the government by way of robust, comprehensive SuDS standards delivery of SuDS would come down to SuDS champions and we’d get no or low quality SuDS schemes. I’ll leave that with you to decide if that has happened?


The SuDS champions have to go out on a limb, engage and inspire colleagues and stakeholders to persuade them that SuDS is the right thing to do. They tirelessly use their passion and entrepreneurial sprit to get SuDS delivered. These champions tend to be SuDS practitioners and those from local authorities. Susdrain’s case studies have born testament to some SuDS successes of these champions particularly in the public realm, or land that local authorities own and manage.


AThe challenge as outlined in CIWEM’s A place for SuDS report is delivering SuDS in new build residential developments. Their ‘Big SuDS Survey’ reported that 70% of respondents suggested that planning policy does not sufficiently encourage SuDS and that only 8% of respondents considered the current non-statutory SuDS technical standards are driving high quality SuDS.


The report concluded that it is policy and institutional barriers that hinder SuDS delivery, NOT their practicalities or the costs. This also supports the assertion that early and effective engagement with the right design team delivers cost effective SuDS that should also deliver multiple benefits.


At a recent Susdrain meeting we discussed the CIWEM report in the context of the Government’ s SuDS review that will be published later in the year. Unsurprisingly Susdrain fully endorses A place for SuDS and its proposals, that include:


  1. Discharge of surface water to the sewer system should be conditional on the inclusion first of high-quality SuDS in new developments.
  2. A clear decision must be taken with regard to the adoption and allocation of maintenance responsibilities for SuDS. This should have a clear and established mechanism for raising funds to ensure the continued effective maintenance and eventual replacement of all SuDS they adopt.
  3. New standards are developed aimed at optimising opportunity to achieve amenity, biodiversity and water quality benefits as well as flood risk reduction. These should reflect the needs of the adopting authority so that they can set out an approval process and adopt with confidence.
  4. The Government should undertake a follow up review of the barriers to retrofitting SuDS in existing developments and make proposals on how retrofitting might be incentivised.


We proposed to work with CIWEM in encouraging the delivery of SuDS, particularly schemes that provide multiple benefits. We’re also keen to see how the proposals from Welsh Government are received as we hope this approach provides inspiration to others on the level of leadership that can be delivered by government.

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