SuDS adoption in England and Wales



The Sewerage Sector Guidance documentation approved by Ofwat under its Code for Adoption Agreements contains new rules on surface water sewers that will apply to all water and sewerage companies in England from 1 April 2020. The rules will allow English water and sewerage companies to adopt a wider range of sewer types than they have done to date, including some SuDS. The rules for adoption can be found in the Design and Construction Guidance (DCG) document.

Water UK has produced a guide which explains the changes: Sewerage Sector Guidance  and lists the types of SuDS which are adoptable.

In England, the National Planning Policy Framework sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these should be applied. It states that ‘Major developments should incorporate sustainable drainage systems unless there is clear evidence that this would be inappropriate’.

It is advisable for developers and their consultants to give early consideration to the maintenance requirements for their SuDS scheme and potential routes for Adoption. They should then also engage with the LPA and the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) early on to explore mechanisms for adoption. Some LLFAs and/or Highway Authorities are adopting SuDS, however this is not uniform across England and neither are the SuDS components or design requirements that they use.

A susdrain fact sheet produced in 2015 provides details of some SuDS maintenance and adoption options. It is recommended that this should be discussed with the LPA and LLFA as early as practicable.


Non statutory technical standards for SuDS

Non-statutory technical standards have been produced by Defra for England and are currently under review (2020). There’s an expectation for SuDS to be designed and constructed in accordance with these brief standards that are also consistent with the SuDS Manual. A number of local authorities have produced their own policy and guidance that should be followed, the LPA should be contracted with regards to their local requirements at the earliest opportunity.

English non-statutory SuDS technical standards 

Defra, 2015

Standards for the design, maintenance and operation of SuDS.


Non-Statutory Technical Standards for Sustainable Drainage: Practice Guidance

LASOO, 2016

Guidance on the English non-statutory SuDS technical standards produced by the LASOO advisory group.



The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 (Schedule 3), which came into effect in Wales on 7 January 2019. It requires new developments to include SuDS features that comply with Welsh national standards, which state that:

‘Developers should demonstrate compliance with these standards in submitting planning applications. For major developments, where a drainage strategy document may be required as part of a local validation requirement, this should demonstrate how these standards have been met in the site design.

It should be noted that a number of planning authorities in Wales have adopted guidance on sustainable drainage which should be taken into account in any development proposal’.

SuDS Approval Bodies (SABs) offer a chargeable pre-application service to discuss individual site requirements and advise on submitting an application.

Developers considering a SuDS which requires planning permission can also use Natural Resources Wales’ chargeable Discretionary Advice Service as part of wider pre-application planning.

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