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Drainage and Highways Agreements

It is important for developers to consider the implications of any future development on existing highway and drainage networks. Starting your enquiries early at the planning stage will also reveal any potential risks that could affect the development or its value, and allow you time to rectify any issues before the construction stage begins.

Two useful tools that every developer should have in place are drainage and highways agreements. These are binding legal agreements between a developer and a local authority or water company to adopt the roads and sewers in a development once construction is complete to the required standard.

Drainage Agreements: what are they?

Drainage Agreements, also known as Section 104 Agreements, are agreements between the developer and the water company to adopt a new sewer. The developer agrees to build the sewerage system at the development site, and provided that they are to the water company’s standard, they will then adopt the sewers as part of their wider network.

The water company will want to ensure that the Section 104 agreement sets out the standards and approved materials to be used in the construction of the sewers and the apparatus to ensure that the sewers meet their specific standards.

Drainage Agreements: why do you need them?

Having this agreement in place will ensure that the development’s sewerage pipes are connected to the water company’s sewerage system, which will mean that the site’s wastewater is taken away by the sewerage company to be disposed of.

This saves the developer from having to install a septic tank at the development site to serve the occupiers and having to deal with disposing of the sewerage themselves, at their own time and cost. A developer will also need to set up a management company to ensure that the sewerage system works as it should and to arrange repairs and maintenance as and when necessary.

Once adopted, the sewerage system will be maintained and repaired by the water company at their own expense, so that the water company will then become responsible for the repair and maintenance of the sewers going forward.

Highway Agreements: what are they?

Highways Agreements, also known as Section 38 agreements, are agreements between the developer and the local authority to adopt a new road. When a new road is built on a development site for industrial, residential or general traffic the developer will offer it to the local authority to be adopted as a public highway. The agreement will apply to the road itself, as well as any drains, lighting and other structures.

Having a Section 38 agreement in place will typically be a condition to the planning consent, which will also include the general layout of the roads that are to be adopted. The roads will also need to be built to a specified standard and the local authority will ensure that these provisions are set out clearly in every agreement. These standards and requirements will vary between each local authority.

Highway Agreements: why do you need them?

Having this agreement in place will ensure that the local authority is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the road at public expense. The local authority will therefore be responsible for any general wear and tear, damage or disrepair to the roads.

Benefits of Drainage and Highway Agreements?

Once adopted, the roads and sewers will be maintained by the local authority and water companies at their own expense, which releases the developer from any future liabilities in connection with the sewers and roads.

It will also mean that the developer does not need to set up a management company to manage the sewers and road networks on site. This could make the development site more attractive to prospective buyers in that they will not need to contribute towards any maintenance fees and other related expenses.

If you need any advice on Drainage and Highway Agreements, please contact a member of our commercial property law team in confidence here or on 02920 829 100 for a free initial call to see how they can help.


To speak to one of our experts today, please contact us on 02920 829 100 or by using our Contact Us form for a free initial chat to see how we can help.

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