Early advice vital to avoid water neutrality delays

Water neutrality statements are now required to support applications to build in the Sussex North Water Supply Zone.  Property developers should seek expert advice at the earliest stage possible to avoid lengthy delays to the application process.  In the following project, the emergence of Natural England’s new guidance threatened to put plans at risk for the second phase of a trade park.

500 new jobs created in West Sussex

Earlier this year, Dunmoore Group was granted planning permission for Phase 2 of the Billingshurst Trade Park.  The proposal was one of the first applications to be approved following the introduction of the water neutrality requirements within Horsham District Council.  The wider site will deliver a mix of B1(c), B2 and B8 uses across 250,000 square feet of employment space, creating a major jobs hub for local residents.

The application was undetermined when Natural England released its position statement on water neutrality.  Having previously advised on flood risk and drainage matters, Motion moved quickly to work with the client’s team to produce a water neutrality strategy for the scheme, helping to unlock further employment space at the site.

Alex Marshall, Development Director at Dunmoore Group, explains, “Phase 1 of the park was already approved, with occupants on site.  We had previously invested in the necessary infrastructure but the latest requirements could have thrown Phase 2 into jeopardy.”

Innovative use of rainwater

Most potable water is derived from ground or river water.  With Motion’s support, Dunmoore Group came up with a proposal which featured imaginative filtration of rainwater for drinking, to overcome the need for increased extraction at Southern Water’s Hardham borehole.

Motion Director Neil Jaques

Motion Director, Neil Jaques, adds, “A post-occupation condition stipulates there should be sufficient water from the rainwater harvesting system to meet the demands of the units with a minimum of 35 days’ drought storage capacity.  This contrasts with the requirements of the British Standards Institution and other planning authorities in the area, who may only stipulate an 18-day storage capacity.”

Alex continues, “The Motion team responded well to the new requirements, helping to pull the project together, work with specialist contractors, integrate the design and move the scheme from outline approval to clear passage through the detailed reserved matters stage.” 

Image credit: © Cormack

This article first appeared in the Summer 2022 edition of Insight.

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