Tighter rules for new housing estate drainage

New homes estate developers in Buckinghamshire will have to check their drainage plans for dealing with surface water with the County Council to make sure they are flood-proof.

And they must have a workable arrangement in place for future maintenance and management of estate drainage systems.

Karen Fisher, the County Council’s Strategic Flood Management Team Leader told the Environment, Transport and Localities Select Committee yesterday (Tuesday, March 17) the government proposals for Sustainable Drainage Systems would affect new housing estates of 10 homes or more from April 6 (2015).

The Environment Agency will continue to monitor plans for housing estates at risk from river flooding. But the County Council – as lead local flood authority – will expect to see the drainage proposals in developers’ planning applications, which must now contain an arrangement for regular maintenance.

All this is being introduced under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, says Karen, to make sure the quality of drainage is good enough to control future flooding risks, especially from rain water running off from hard surfaces such as roofs and drives. It will also ensure developers don’t leave housing estates without proper systems maintenance.

Karen said that the idea is to make surface water drainage more sustainable by catching water at the earliest point and slowing it so it doesn’t all pass very quickly into pipes leading to rivers, which could cause flooding.

The additional responsibility could cost the County Council £150,000 a year in staff and administration, but Karen said the Strategic Flood Risk Management Team could recoup some of this through pre-application fees.

Select Committee Chairman Warren Whyte said: ‘We’re disappointed that the Government has been so late in decidingon the scope of the local authority role, which means the County Council has had very little time to plan.

‘However, from what we’ve heard we are confident we can deal with our statutory duty now, and we’ve asked the Strategic Flood Management Team to look at a long-term policy and business model as a priority.’

Based on the current year’s application levels, the County Council expects around 160 major development plans to be lodged in the coming 12 months.