SAB - One Year On

Sorry - this is definitely an article for the nerds, as I vent frustrations on the drainage regulations introduced in Wales on 7th January 2019. The SAB regulations are most certainly a good idea. If you're not familiar with them, they essentially require new developments and builds over 100m² in size to have a surface water drainage design. In theory, this should stop people paving over every last bit of the ground and ultimately reduce flood risk.

Well, it's one year on and what have we learned? Also, has this work prevented flooding? The answer to both question is - I don't know!

I was discussing these regulations with a fellow architect who operates a practice from a city in the east of Wales; He was telling me of one authority in that region that wasn't even enforcing SAB. A drainage engineer I work with has also shared his mixed experience from local authorities who've all got wildly different approaches. Furthermore, a report I've seen from one local authority showed that over the last year, they'd only received SAB applications on 18% of the planning applications that were supposed to have them. 

My final gripe relates to enforcement as I ponder the following scenario. I design a new home scheme in conjunction with a civil engineer who includes rainwater gardens, attenuation ponds and various other features to manage surface water. After being passed by SAB, built and then sold off, what stops the new owner tarmacing the whole area for a driveway?

Sadly, I think one year is too soon to see if there's an impact, maybe we'll have a better picture next year?

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