A new way of working is evolving to combat sewerage and drainage issues in new developments planned across the Wealden district.

Wealden District Council and Southern Water have agreed to work collaboratively in a pilot scheme ahead of a rollout to all other local planning authorities in the water company’s catchment area.

Following a meeting between the two recently, it was agreed to look at new ways of working targeted at better quality information in response to planning applications; Southern Water will continue to be held to account at Wealden’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings; and new planning conditions will be attached to large developments so that occupation will be restricted until vital infrastructure works are completed by Southern Water.

The partnership working comes after the council called on Southern Water to update and upgrade the sewerage and water infrastructure systems so they can deal with existing sewage issues and accommodate new development in the future.

It also comes on the back of a Full Council Motion earlier in the summer when councillors unanimously agreed to hold Southern Water to account and take a lead on addressing issues of sewage backing up in the homes and gardens of local residents.

Leader of Wealden District Council Councillor Ann Newton, also the authority’s portfolio holder for Planning, said she welcomed the opportunity for the council to be the first local planning authority to work hand in hand with Southern Water.

She said, “We stand by our commitment to our residents and communities to ensure Southern Water delivers the much needed infrastructure in our area. Our new approach will ensure a more collaborative approach between Southern Water and developers to ensure that upgrades take place to serve new and existing communities.

“We will continue to work with Southern Water and developers to identify gaps in their planning for growth and hold both to account for their records of delivery. We are also working with our partner local authorities across the region to establish a local authority working group to ensure that the voice of our community is heard.”