Sustainable Drainage

What are Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)?

Sustainable Drainage systems (SuDS) are systems that:

  • deal with rainwater as close as possible to where it falls
  • store runoff and release it slowly (attenuation)
  • allow water to soak into the ground (infiltration)
  • slowly transport (convey) water on the surface
  • filter out pollutants
  • allow sediments to settle out by controlling the flow of the water

CIRIA's susdrain project has produced an animation on Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) that provides an easily understandable overview of SuDS.

Planning application requirements

Unless otherwise agreed at the pre-application stage, any major planning application must now be supported with the following:

  • A detailed drainage strategy, including any arrangements for sustainable drainage, with reference to the non-statutory technical standards.
  • A maintenance plan for the lifetime of the development.

Major developments are:

  1. Residential Development: 10 dwellings or more or residential development with a site area of 0.5 hectares or more where the number of dwellings is not yet known.
  2. Non Residential Development: Provision of a building or buildings where the total floor space to be created is 1000 square metres or more or where the floor area is not yet known, a site area of 1 hectare or more.


As part of the update of the CIRIA SuDS Manual, a series of priority checklists and frameworks on the planning, design, construction and maintenance of SuDS have been produced. We recommend that developers review these documents prior to requesting pre-application advice. In particular:

Brighton & Hove City Council has worked with partner authorities to produce a guide for master planning sustainable drainage into developments (PDF 10.4mb).

A Supplementary Planning Guide for Sustainable Drainage is being drafted and will be available shortly. 

If you have any queries, please email