Section 104 Agreement Timescales
The adoption process was recently made more difficult by the private transfer of channels in 2011. As part of the transfer, most of the sewers, which were installed before July of this year, were automatically transferred to the property of the water companies. These include sewers under the S104 agreements. However, the transfer involved only sewers discharged into the public system. The S104 agreements also concern surface water channels that carry rainwater from the land. Many of them flow into streams or ponds. These were not included in the transfer, which means that there are developments where the bad pipes are owned by the water company, but where the surface water pipes are still subject to an acceptance agreement. There are also developments for which some of them were connected and adopted before July 2011 and parts that have been connected and are still private thereafter. Residents` associations have administrative functions, but are not landowners. They must be contracting parties to the agreement in addition to the owner of the land. A smooth design and submission process often means that sewers are easier to accept and that attachment to the developer can be reduced – often leading to a faster and more cost-effective construction program. For water management strategies to be successfully approved and for an agreement to be reached under Section 104, it is important to assess the needs of each site in order to provide the optimal solution. Please note that no changes to this Agreement are accepted.
Attempts to amend the agreement will result in increased delays and legal costs. The path to an agreement under Section 104 begins with an initial flood risk assessment and takes into account drainage requirements for the entire area to ensure that local surface water sanitation and drainage systems are taken into account and not overburdened. A Section 104 agreement (under the Water Industry Act 1991) is an agreement between a developer and a sewerage company for the adoption of sewer systems for development. There are strict rules for getting an agreement that can be a minefield for developers. The process is often on the critical path of a project and decisions related to it can have a huge impact on costs. In Wales, mandatory building standards require that an agreement be in place under Section 104 before development can progress. Since this legislation is likely to be implemented in England, it is essential that all stakeholders in housing projects understand the process. In the case of significant developments (generally, ten or more houses), the normal method used to achieve this transfer is through Section 104 of the Water Industry Act (1991), commonly referred to as the Section 104 Agreement (short for S104). The newly elected Conservative government has committed to creating 275,000 affordable housing units by 2020. In this context, the volume of applications for section 104 agreements is expected to increase exponentially.
To avoid delays and additional costs for their projects, developers need to consider drainage planning and make important decisions – including material selection – as soon as possible. This is an agreement between the developer and the water company that sets the acceptance criteria. In short, the developer agrees to build the sewers to an agreed standard and wait for them for some time after the development is occupied, usually a few years. At the end of this period, unless there are any significant problems, the property will be transferred to the water company, which will then be responsible for the sewers in the future.