What sustainable drainage is

Find out what a Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) is and what property developers have to include in planning applications for major developments.

What a Sustainable Drainage System is

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

Find out why SuDs are so important for our water supply from The Aquifer Partnership.

Watch CIRIA's (Construction Industry Research and Information Association) easy to follow video on SuDS.

Meet planning application requirements

Major planning applications have to include a detailed drainage strategy. This includes arrangements for sustainable drainage. It must also refer to the non-statutory technical standards.

A major planning application also has to include a maintenance plan. This plan must cover the lifetime of the development.

These requirements always apply unless otherwise agreed at the pre-application stage.

What a major development is

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.

Non-residential development 

Plans for a building or buildings where the total floor space will be 1,000 square metres or more. Or if the floor area is not yet known, a site area of 1 hectare or more.

Get more advice

You can find information on the planning, design, construction and maintenance of SuDS in the CIRIA SuDS Manual. You can download it for free from CIRIA’s website.

We recommend developers read the manual before they request pre-application advice. In particular the sections about SuDS:

  • planning and design processes
  • maintenance plans

Download our guide for masterplanning sustainable drainage into developments.

Download our supplementary planning guide for sustainable drainage for more information. 

If you have any questions, send an email to sustainabledrainage@brighton-hove.gov.uk.