Underground pipes can be a dirty business

So three months into the project we have been informed of a rather important legislative change that happened in October 2011 regarding the ownership of our drains (and everyone’s in the UK for that matter). While we were aware of drainage that was running through our property at the rear to our next door neighbours it has not been something that we have considered to who actually owns the drainage.

It was only when we invited a structural engineer around to our property to take measurements for the steel beam that needs to be placed during construction that he mentioned if we had checked with Anglian Water to see if we had the permission to go ahead with the extension. Perplexed that this has not been previously brought to our attention through our architect, submission for planning or builder meeting stages I felt it necessary to go do some digging.

Now this seems that it only really affects you if your house is part of a semi detached or terraced house, but the best place to start your research is with your local water supplier. A good deal of information was available online through our local water supplier including a handy graphic to highlight how the law has changed. A frequently asked questions was available too which answered the majority.

Drawing from the Anglian Water websiteDrawing from the Anglian Water websiteNow the golden nugget was these six points that Anglian Water stated that would allow automatic planning permission and it would fall under building control to ensure it was compliant.

  1. The sewer built over/near is 3 metres deep or less.
  2. The sewer built over/near is 225mm diameter or smaller.
  3. The length of the sewer under a building does not exceed 6 metres and no manhole or access point is under/in a building.
  4. There is a suitable diversion route to enable the sewer to be re-laid in the future should this become necessary.
  5. A suitable foundation design has been provided to ensure that the loads from the building do not have a detrimental effect on the sewer.
  6. The sewer is not pressurised, i.e. a pumping/rising main.

So a quick call to the Developer Service’s department confirm this was the case. They advised if we wanted a written confirmation that I could email across our Approved architect plans and our address and they would conduct a search using their maps to confirm. This was sent over on the 13th February so watch this space for an update.

UpdateSo just two days later we received an email back to confirm that it shouldn’t be a problem.

The proposals appear to demonstrate compliance with our standard criteria for automatic approval and we therefore have no objection, subject to a suitable foundation design to ensure no loading on the public sewer.

I haven’t picked up with the builder yet but this may all be because it was within regulations that it hasn’t been mentioned but another potential obstacle avoided.



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