Building Over Drains

Building Over DrainsSince October 2011 changes in national legislation have meant that South West Water became the owners of some drains which had previously been in private ownership. Previously they were the responsibility of the householder over whose land they ran, but now that responsibility rests with the water authority. Whilst this may seem like a good idea, it can create problems if you want to build over or near such drains.

The drains where problems can occur are called Lateral Drains. These are drains which cross your land, carrying sewerage from one or more of your neighbours’ properties. Householders cannot build over or within three metres of these drains, without the permission of South West Water. It is usually relatively easy to get permission to build alongside a drain, but to build over or divert the drain, can be more complicated and expensive.

Regardless of when your plans were approved by the local authority, if your project has a Lateral Drain in close proximity, you must obtain separate permission from South West Water before you start building. Similarly, if work starts and then you uncover one of these drains, you must stop work and contact South West Water.

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