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Understanding UK Drainage Regulations and Planning Permission for Your Landscape Project

French drain and soakaway crate garden drainage system

Understanding drainage regulations and planning permission is crucial for any UK landscape gardening project. Properly designed and installed drainage systems can significantly reduce the risk of flooding, protect your property, and maintain the health of your plants. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about UK drainage regulations, planning permission, and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS).

For expert advice and professional installation of drainage systems that comply with UK regulations, please visit our Drainage Installation Page. At Acorn Landscape Gardening, we specialize in creating efficient and effective drainage solutions tailored to your landscaping needs.

French drain and soakaway crate garden drainage system

Understanding Drainage Regulations

British Standard for Below Ground Drainage

The British Standard for below ground drainage is can be found here. This standard provides guidelines for the design, installation, and maintenance of drainage systems. It is essential to follow these guidelines to ensure your drainage project complies with the UK’s regulations.

Rights to Drainage

In the UK, property owners have the right to drain water from their land, as long as it does not harm the environment or other properties. This includes the right to connect your property’s drainage system to public sewers or other existing drainage systems, with the necessary permissions.

Responsibilities for Outside Drains

The responsibility for maintaining outside drains depends on their location and ownership. In general, homeowners are responsible for the drains within their property boundaries. However, if a drain serves multiple properties, it may be considered a public sewer, making the local water and sewerage company responsible for its maintenance.

Planning Permission for Drainage Projects

When is Planning Permission Required?

Planning permission is not always required for drainage projects, but it may be necessary for more extensive works, such as installing a new drainage system or altering existing systems. Check with your local planning authority for specific requirements in your area.

How to Apply for Planning Permission

To apply for planning permission, you’ll need to submit an application to your local planning authority. You can do this online through the Planning Portal. Be prepared to provide detailed plans and information about your proposed drainage project.

Building Regulations Considerations

New Drainage

When installing a new drainage system or modifying an existing one, you may need to comply with the Building Regulations, specifically Approved Document H. These regulations cover various aspects of drainage systems, including materials, design, and installation.

Common Drainage ProjectsPlanning Permission Required?
Installing a new drainage systemPossibly*
Modifying an existing drainage systemPossibly*
Connecting to a public sewerYes
Installing a soakawayNo**
Installing permeable pavingNo**
Installing a rainwater harvesting systemNo**
Creating swales or ponds for stormwater managementPossibly*
Building a green roofPossibly*

* Check with your local planning authority to determine if planning permission is required for these projects, as requirements may vary depending on the scope of the work and location.

** These projects typically do not require planning permission, but they must comply with Building Regulations and any applicable local guidelines. Always consult with your local planning authority for specific requirements in your area.

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS)

What are SUDS and Why They Matter

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) are an approach to managing surface water runoff in a more environmentally friendly manner. SUDS aim to mimic natural drainage processes, reducing the risk of flooding, improving water quality, and promoting biodiversity. Learn more about SUDS in our ultimate guide to subsurface drainage solutions

Key Principles and Components of SUDS

SUDS incorporate various techniques and components to manage surface water effectively. Some key principles and components include:

  1. Source control: Reducing runoff at the source, such as through rainwater harvesting or green roofs.
  2. Infiltration: Encouraging water to infiltrate the ground, using permeable paving or infiltration trenches.
  3. Attenuation: Slowing down the flow of water using ponds, swales, or wetlands.
  4. Treatment: Removing pollutants from runoff through vegetated areas, filter strips, or sedimentation basins.

Downpipes and Their Placement

Downpipes are an essential component of most drainage systems. They direct water from gutters and roof surfaces into the ground or drainage systems. Downpipes should ideally be connected to a soakaway, a rainwater harvesting system, or another appropriate SUDS component. Read more about effective garden drainage solutions on our blog.

Practical Tips for Your Drainage Project

Determining the Depth of Drainage Pipes

The depth at which drainage pipes should be buried depends on factors such as soil type, frost depth, and pipe material. In the UK, a general rule of thumb is to bury drainage pipes at a minimum depth of 450mm below ground level. For more information on soil types and drainage, check out our article on understanding soil types and drainage.

Obtaining a Drainage Survey

A drainage survey can help identify any existing issues with your property’s drainage system and provide valuable information for planning your project. Drainage surveys typically involve the use of CCTV cameras to inspect pipes and identify blockages or damage. It’s a good idea to get a drainage survey before starting any significant drainage project.

Finding Drainage Plans for Your House

To find drainage plans for your house in the UK, you can contact your local water and sewerage company or your local council. They may hold records of drainage plans for your property. Alternatively, you can hire a professional drainage surveyor to create a new plan for you.


Adhering to drainage regulations and obtaining the necessary planning permission is essential for a successful landscape gardening project in the UK. By understanding these requirements and incorporating Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems into your design, you can create a beautiful, functional, and environmentally friendly outdoor space. If you need professional help with your garden drainage project in Preston, visit our local services page.

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