Delivering sustainable drainage systems through the English planning system: A proposed case of institutional void

Vilcan, Tudorel and Potter, Karen (2020). Delivering sustainable drainage systems through the English planning system: A proposed case of institutional void. Journal of Flood Risk Management (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jfr3.12591

Abstract

Following a series of flood events, the major flooding of 2007 finally triggered legislative change through the Flood and Water Management Act of 2010 and proposed the introduction of Schedule 3 (S3), to provide a stronger regulatory system for the implementation of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS). However, S3 has been abandoned in England in favour of implementing SuDS through a “strengthened” planning system. By taking a broader governance perspective, this article explores the limited uptake of SuDS through the strengthened planning system. We argue that the so‐called strengthening of the planning system creates an institutional void: a lack of policy clarity that occurs when the role of the state is scaled back and other actors take up governance roles. While institutional voids can create successful outcomes, in the case of SuDS implementation they have been sub‐optimal. We trace the cause of these outcomes to the unwillingness of the Government to engage in designing policy. This creates a lack of consistency and uniformity, as the implementation of SuDS becomes a matter of ad hoc negotiations and power relations between local authorities and developers. We conclude that the current policy has reduced potential to deliver better outcomes and highlight the options for increased SuDS uptake going forward.

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