To get the best experience of this website, we recommend you upgrade your browser.

Upgrade your Internet Explorer

Durham County Council

Page location

Sustainable drainage systems


Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) are drainage solutions that provide an alternative to the direct guiding of rainwater through pipes and sewers to nearby rivers and watercourses.

What are SuDS?

By copying the natural processes, SuDS aim to reduce surface water flooding, improve water quality and enhance the appeal and biodiversity value of the environment. SuDS achieve this by lowering flow rates, increasing water storage capacity and reducing the movement of pollution.

Who does this affect? 

Developers of major development sites must consider including SuDS into their sites. Major developments are those that meet any of the following criteria:

  • Contain 10 or more properties
  • 0.1 hectares or greater for commercial development
  • 0.5 hectares or greater for residential development

What are we doing?

We evaluate SuDS on new developments as part of the planning process and, if requested, may consider adoption and future maintenance. Schemes should demonstrate their agreement with national standards and local policy by meeting a number of requirements. 

We will seek to secure SuDS which create the best environment, biodiversity and other benefits to the local area.

We seek to deliver this through a coordinated approach as both the lead local Flood authority and local planning authority. The aim is to maximise coordination with planning policy whilst still ensuring SuDS are affordable and practical.

What is our involvement?

Durham County Council is a lead local flood authority as explained in the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. We work with local partners such as Northumbrian Water and the Environment Agency to reduce and manage flood risk.

What Guidance is there?

Our Sustainable Drainage System Adoption Guide 2016 (PDF, 959kb) is aimed at developers of major development sites.

Our model SuDS legal documents are examples of those used during the adoption process, however as every scheme is treated individually final documents may differ.