Sustainable drainage systems and the planning process

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government delivered a written ministerial statement on the implementation of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in parliament on 18 December 2014. The statement made changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which in turn made SuDS a material consideration in the determination of planning applications for major developments. These changes came into effect on 6 April 2015.

Alongside the changes to NPPF the Town and County Planning (Development Management procedure) (England) Order was amended making Lancashire County Council, in its role as Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA), a statutory consultee in the planning process for major development proposals which have surface water implications, starting from 15 April 2015.

Consequently, developers need to provide SuDS on major developments where appropriate, while paying due regard to the following:

Major developments

A 'major' planning application is defined in Part 1(2) of The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.

“Major development” means development involving one or more of the following:

  • Residential - 10+ dwellings / 0.5Ha and over
  • Office/light industrial - 1000+ sq m/ 1+ hectare
  • General industrial - 1000+ sq m/ 1+ hectare
  • Retail - 1000+ sq m/ 1+ hectare
  • Gypsy/traveller site - 10+ pitches
  • Minerals development - The winning and working of minerals or the use of land for mineral-working deposits
  • Waste development

The >0.5ha relates to the size of the ‘red line area/red edge plan’ on the submitted planning application.

Pre-application advice

Lancashire County Council encourages prospective developers to first contact the local planning authority to determine whether your development proposal is acceptable in principle and on a planning policy basis.

Currently Lancashire County Council is unable to offer a bespoke site-specific pre-application service.  We are in the process of developing this and we hope to offer comprehensive advice on a site-specific basis in the near future. Please check this webpage regularly for updates.

We have produced sustainable drainage pre-application standing advice (PDF 152 KB) to provide a helpful interim framework in relation to surface water and sustainable drainage on development proposals.


Flood Risk Management Team
Lancashire County Council Room C12
County Hall

Tel: 0300 123 6780