Drainage Concerns Over Suffolk New Build Developments

In recent years Suffolk has seen a boom in new housing developments, most significantly in and around Ipswich, Felixstowe and Hadleigh. There are plans for others in the pipeline; according to Ipswich Borough Council’s Ipswich Housing Strategy 2017-2022 report, in the two decades to 2031, almost 10,000 new homes are needed, including affordable housing and homes for older residents. In the next 20 years in Suffolk, according to The State of Suffolk 2019 report, more than 62,000 new homes will be needed.

While all this can be good news for house hunters and local businesses, it can come with a downside: an increased demand on existing infrastructure. It’s not just things like roads, hospitals and schools, either; there are demands made on the public drainage system, and new houses can also present potential drainage issues in and around homes.

It’s true that if you buy an older property you can inherit issues with drains. The issues with new builds, however, tend to be a little different. For a start, no one has stress-tested the systems. At least with a property on an established estate, you know the overall system can cope.

If there is a problem with drainage on a new estate, it can be tricky to fix. The drains are installed prior to the property being built, and so getting to them can be a challenge. As to the kinds of things that can go wrong, they include installing the wrong size pipes, installing pipes at the wrong gradient, and not connecting pipework properly. If pipes shift, wastewater can be discharged into the ground, turning gardens into a boggy mess. If blockages occur, water can back up and flood the home.

When “soakable ground” such as fields and meadows is replaced by roads and driveways, that can also cause problems, especially at times of heavy rain. While it is possible to install systems such as soakaways, garden drainage is often overlooked and so rainwater can pool and stand. It’s not just a hazard to lawns and plants, either – standing water can be a haven for bacteria and so is potentially bad for people and wildlife, too.

Felixstowe suffered severe flooding in 1953. Thankfully, there are various flood defences in place and the town has enjoyed 66 years without a similar incident. However, it should be remembered that there exists low-lying land and that, in particular, is at risk in the event of flooding of any sort.

Looking after Suffolk’s drains

Fortunately, developers in Suffolk enjoy access to a wealth of resources and guidance online, including Suffolk County Council’s Guidance on Development and Flood Risk, which provides guidance to developers and local planning authorities with regard to creating suitable drainage systems.

Suffolk Flood Risk Management Partnership have made available Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) a Local Design Guide. This particular guide highlights the work done to establish sustainable drainage systems on developments in Ravenswood and Westerfield. SuDS aim to mimic natural systems and the design is always specific to the site concerned.

The kinds of things taken into account include the underlying hydrology – that’s the properties of the earth’s water, and especially its movement in relation to land – the functional purposes of the area, and the present and estimated future needs of the people living and working there. At Ravenswood, for example, excess water discharges to a watercourse, whereas at Westerfield, a flood storage basin has been created.

Not all developers take such care, however, and it’s in those circumstances that problems are likely to arise. At Anglia Drain Doctor, we work with a variety of Suffolk developers in creating drainage plans, offering drainage surveys, connecting mains water and so much more. Get in touch to find out how we can help make your life easier now and also help you avoid headaches in the future.