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Sewage: new infrastructure is needed before developments are built 

22nd April 2024

Across Sussex, there are far too many cases of new home developments proceeding without adequate sewerage infrastructure, despite protests by local Town and Parish Councils. Well documented problems extend to poor drainage, hydraulically overloaded sewers, sewage flooding of peoples’ homes, streets and green spaces, and storm sewage overflows to environmentally sensitive waters.

 Photo: courtesy of Jacky Pendleton, Middleton-on-Sea


CPRE Sussex is launching a new campaign to tackle this unacceptable situation. We want to see councils in our area make adequate sewerage infrastructure a prerequisite to development; no sewer upgrade, no permission to develop or occupy new homes. 

At present, the environmental objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) are too often being over-ridden by Planning Inspectors in the consideration of development appeals. The NPPF’s presumption that development proposals should be considered sustainable (the so-called “tilted balance” in favour of the developer) has resulted in many speculative development proposals that clearly seek to by-pass local planning controls and flagrantly disregard the natural environment.

We want to see local authority plans and neighbourhood plans (ideally backed by changes to the NPPF) make use of so-called “Grampian conditions” in the planning process, putting planning controls back into the hands of the local and neighbourhood planning authorities.

What are Grampian conditions?

The use of “Grampian conditions” emanates from the decision in a legal case Grampian Regional Council v City of Aberdeen (1984) which in essence provides that the requirements of a condition can preclude the implementation of development. Examples of such conditions could include: (a) reinforcing the sewerage network; (b) extension of treatment capacity at a sewage works; (c) improving surface water drainage; and (d) greatly reducing storm sewage overflows to environmental waters. The likely outcomes would be to curtail speculative development proposals and to slow the pace of development to allow time for the necessary infrastructure to be built.

This campaign derives from a seminar on the “dependency of new housing development on sewerage infrastructure” held on 24 November 2023, attended by 45 representatives from a total of 25 local councils in Sussex. There was strong support for the introduction of Grampian conditions in the planning process to address sewerage deficiencies before allowing new development. The proceedings of this seminar are available at

Finding out more

Supporting Information Sheets can be downloaded on the following:

What Grampian conditions are, how they can be used and their benefits.

A summary of the range of problems associated with sewerage in Sussex.

See also: Press release: CPRE Sussex launches sewage campaign

If you want further information, please contact the Campaign Co-Leads:

Sewerage and its environmental impact: Dr Colin Hayes at

Neighbourhood planning: Alison Eardley at