Defra is currently consulting on the proposals which will require developers to submit their solutions for managing water run off, to new authorities alongside their planning applications.
Steve Wielebski, Chair of the HBF Technical Committee, and Chair of the CIOB environmental panel said that the HBF had written to the government to raise its concern about the new requirements governing these sustainable drainage system or SUDs, which are aimed at preventing flooding.
Under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, future construction work which affects the way in which land drains will require consent from new approving Sustainable Drainage Authorities – called SABs. Before Christmas, Defra released draft National Standards which sets out the requirements which these new bodies will be asking for. SABs, which are being set up by county council and unitary authorities will also be responsible for adoption and maintenance of SUDS.
However house builders have a number of concerns. As well as the cost it could add to a new home – estimated by the HBF to be between £1000 and £2500, they are worried that the approval bodies will not be up and running with enough expertise in time for October, when the new regime comes into force and might hold up house building.
“Some local authorities seem to be showing little commitment to setting up these new approval bodies, and we're worried that the longer they wait the less experience they will have. Altogether we could be looking at over 150 different organisations.
“House building is starting to pick up so the last thing we need is for hold ups to be incurred because of this new system, which could see developers having to respond to the needs of 150 different bodies,” said Wielebski. The new standards are being left open to interpretation by the differing approval bodies.
It could be better to delay the introduction, he said.
The standard generally requires developers adhere to best practice SUDs concepts, rather than underground engineered solutions, and thus could account for 5- 25% of the site. This requirement also has further cost implications because the fill it generates is expensive to send to landfill, Wielebski said.