Flood Risk Management: Pre-application advice

Request advice on flood risk management.

1 Overview

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is designated as a Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, which means we are a statutory consultee on surface water drainage for all new major developments, as set out by the Town and Country Planning Order (2015).

Local planning authorities consult us for advice on any surface water drainage and local flood risk issues that affect proposals submitted for planning permission on major planning applications. They then take our recommendations into account when making a decision on a planning application.

We can provide advice on flood-related issues associated with any proposed development before you submit a planning application. The benefits of seeking advice include:

  • reducing the time and cost involved in working up proposals
  • reducing the subsequent cost of unsuccessful applications
  • comprehensive information on what you need to provide with your application
  • helping to speed up the decision-making process once an application has been submitted.

If you submit an application without seeking our advice first, or have not used the advice given, we will base our response to the local planning authority on the information submitted with the application on the planning portal. At full planning stage, there will unlikely be time to discuss at length and revise a proposal/design before the local planning authority needs to make a decision on the application.

What is a major development?

A major development is currently classified by the Town and Country Planning Order (2015) as being the of one of the following:

  • a site involving mining or processing mineral materials
  • waste or sewage collection or processing facilities
  • housing developments with more than 10 intended dwellings
  • housing developments larger than 0.5 hectares, if the number of intended dwellings is not known
  • any site where the total floor space created by the development is 1,000 square metres or more
  • any site with a total area of 1 hectare or more, regardless of the number or type of buildings.

Why we review drainage in major developments

The planning process is an important part of our work to manage flood risk in West Sussex. We assess each application against the Defra National Standards for Sustainable Drainage (external PDF) and work with applicants to meet the standards, imposing conditions on planning applications where needed and ensuring the site is safe from local sources of flood risk without increasing flood risk elsewhere.

Review of minor developments

We do not normally assess minor developments (any site that does not meet the criteria for major development above). Drainage in minor developments is overseen by the local district or borough planning authority themselves.

Do I need to send my planning application to you?

No, your documents will be available for us to review on the local planning authority's website once you have made your application. You do not need to send your documents to us separately.

2 How to meet the national standards for sustainable drainage

You can use our SuDS proforma and validation checklist as part of your planning application submission. It helps break down exactly what information will be needed in each field, so you can make a good quality submission.

Download the PDF version to complete and then submit them with your planning application to the local planning authority.

3 Advice levels and cost

We can help you submit the best possible surface water drainage strategy with our pre-planning application advice service. Having your plans reviewed before submitting a full planning application makes it easier to make changes and improvements, helping you have a smoother journey through the planning consultation process.

Who can ask for pre-application advice?

Anybody who wants to submit a planning application. We can review and advise on sites that would be classified as a major development.


The cost of each level of advice is scaled to the size of the development. To find out how much our advice will cost, decide which level of advice is right for you and your needs and check which category your site falls under. The cost of the service for each category is detailed in the service description below.

After receiving your request for pre-application advice, we will send you an email to pay online if we are providing one of our chargeable services. Payment will be required before meetings can be booked with our officers.

Alternatively, we can issue an invoice if required. Please indicate on your application if you require an invoice and provide the invoicing details and any purchase order number required by the payee. When paying by invoice, meetings can be booked in with our officers once the invoice has been issued.

Level 1: Flood Risk Report

What we provide

A detailed Flood Risk Report (FRR) of the known flood risks and historic information we hold, and a review of the suitability of the site for sustainable drainage system (SuDS) techniques. We include information from the following sources:

  • Fluvial flood risk - Flood zones (Environment Agency)
  • Flood warning and alert areas (Environment Agency)
  • Flood maps for surface water (Environment Agency)
  • Susceptibility to groundwater flooding (British Geological Survey)
  • Historic flood map (Environment Agency)
  • Wet spots (West Sussex County Council)
  • Historic flooding incidents database (West Sussex County Council)
  • Officer analysis and comment of likely suitable SuDS approaches


Development type and costs.
Development type Cost
Major (10 to 100 homes or equivalent) £200 plus VAT
Large major (101 to 500 homes or equivalent £300 plus VAT
Strategic major (more than 500 homes or equivalent) £450 plus VAT

Level 2: Pre-application advice service

What we provide

This service:

  • is suitable for major to large major developments where the proposals are not straightforward and might require discussion to resolve matters
  • includes a single online meeting - we will aim to contact you within five working days of receiving payment or an invoice being issued to arrange the meeting
  • includes written confirmation of advice, sent within 21 days of the meeting
  • includes advice that will reflect the level of detail that you have provided
  • incurs a cost that must be paid upfront.

If you require further correspondence, review of further designs or meetings with us, further charges will apply.


The costs shown in the table below are for a single online meeting and written response.

Fees and charges: Number of dwellings, commercial and retail area in square metres and single online meeting and written response.
No. of dwellings Commercial and retail area Single online meeting and written response
10-24 101m²-500m² £790 plus VAT
25-49 501m²-1,000m² £1,120 plus VAT
50-79 1,001m²-2,000m² £1,645 plus VAT
80-199 2,001m²-5,000m² £2,630 plus VAT
200+ 5,001m² + £2,890 plus VAT

After an initial meeting and response has been provided, should further review of additional information be requested that requires considerable officer involvement then the following fees will apply and be for an additional written response only.

Further review fees and charges: Number of dwellings, commercial and retail area in square metres and single additional written response.
No. of dwellings Commercial and retail area Additional written response only
Up to 10 Up to 100m² £135 plus VAT
11-24 101m²-500m² £525 plus VAT
25-49 501m²-1,000m² £790 plus VAT
50-79 1,001m²-2,000m² £1,445 plus VAT
80-199 2,001m²-5,000m² £2,630 plus VAT
200+ 5,001m² + £2,890 plus VAT

Level 3: Large strategic sites

What we provide

This service:

  • is suitable for larger strategic developments (greater than 500 homes, complex mixed use development or equivalent commercial development) that will require our officers’ longer-term involvement and multiple meetings
  • includes scoping, meetings, site visits and ongoing correspondence.


We will agree specific timescales, the nature of the advice required and costs with you. To discuss your requirements, please email FloodRiskManagement@westsussex.gov.uk.

4 Additional information

Be aware that:

  • a substantive response can say that we have no comment to make, are happy with the proposed development, refer to current standing advice, provide general advice and include justification for our views
  • requesting pre-application advice from us is not mandatory but we will no longer enter into discussion over the scope or content of any specialist flood risk and drainage proposals outside this service
  • any advice given does not constitute a formal response or decision
  • any views or opinions are given in good faith and on the best of ability, without prejudice to the formal consideration of any planning application, which will be subject to public consultation and ultimately decided by the local planning authority
  • little or no weight will be given to the content of our pre-application advice for schemes submitted more than three years after the date of the advice being used
  • any advice given in relation to the planning history of the site, planning constraints or statutory designations does not constitute a formal response under the provisions of the Local Land Charges Act 1975.

5 Request advice

Please read the information below before submitting a request for advice.

Please include the following documentation with your request as an absolute minimum or your request will be returned and we will be unable to book it in, which may increase response times.

  • Site location plan (scale 1:1,250) with the site boundary shown.
  • Description of proposed works/Flood Risk Scoping Note.

By providing more information, we will be able to provide a much more comprehensive response. For example, the documents listed below are required for a full planning application; submitting these at the pre-application stage will provide a much more solid basis for a future planning application.

  • Schedule of existing uses, including planning history with reference numbers.
  • Description, including site layout plans of the proposed development and schedule of uses.
  • Reference to supporting national, regional and local planning documents and policies.
  • Topographic survey of the site.
  • Ground investigation.
  • Watercourse/drainage survey.
  • Preliminary drainage calculations.
  • Relevant data collected to date.

In terms of our chargeable services, we now require payment to be made before a meeting can be booked in with one of our officers.

Extra information submitted after an initial submission, but before a meeting, will have to be done so in a reasonable time to allow officers time to review this before a meeting. Extra information submitted in the 48 hours prior to any meeting may result in the meeting being cancelled and re-arranged to allow our officers time to review the information and prepare.

6 What happens next

After submitting your request for advice, you will receive an acknowledgement and your details will be sent to the flood risk management team to process your application.

The team will issue a response to your application within 15 working days.

7 Contact our team

If you have any queries, please email us at FloodRiskManagement@westsussex.gov.uk.

Last updated:
19 July 2024
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