Sewers and drains—developer’s rights and responsibilities
Produced in partnership with John Bates of Old Square Chambers
Sewers and drains—developer’s rights and responsibilities

The following Environment practice note produced in partnership with John Bates of Old Square Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Sewers and drains—developer’s rights and responsibilities
  • Construction specifications
  • Right to connect to public sewers and drains
  • Agreement to adopt
  • Undertaker’s duty to connect
  • Notice of the proposed connection
  • Making the connection
  • Connection by developer
  • Connection by undertaker
  • Criminal offences

The developer of a housing estate or other facility will need to lay sewers and drains to deal with domestic sewerage and surface water. Sections 21 and 22 of the Building Act 1984 give a local authority the power to require drains to connect to sewers in some situations.

Construction specifications

Where a sewerage undertaker considers that the proposed sewer may be needed to form part of its general sewerage system it may require the developer—other than a railway, canal, dock or harbour undertaker who is doing work on its own land—to construct it in accordance with the undertaker’s specifications. Any requirement imposed under this provision may not be inconsistent with, or more onerous than, standards set under s 106B of the Water Industry Act 1991 (WIA 1991). Please note that in Wales, the relevant paragraphs of s 106B, as inserted by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, s 42, came into force from 1 October 2012. They are yet to be implemented in England.

If the sewerage undertaker makes such a requirement it must pay any extra expenses reasonably incurred by the developer in meeting its specifications and maintaining the sewer to relevant standards.

If the developer is aggrieved by the undertaker’s requirement they have 28 days within which to appeal against it to Ofwat. If they do not appeal, they must comply with the requirement;

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