Land drainage consent

Building any structure, even a temporary structure or planting trees and shrubs within 8 meters of a watercourse in Cheshire East is not permitted without consent from the Council. This is in accordance with Council Byelaw 10 and is to ensure a suitable area is available for maintenance of the watercourse by its riparian owner(s).

You need land drainage consent from the Council if you want to do any work that might affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse in Cheshire East. This is so we can make sure your plans won't increase flood risk.

We can fine you if you start work before getting consent. 

For work affecting main rivers, you need an  environmental permit from the Environment Agency rather than land drainage consent.

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An ordinary watercourse is any water channel that is not a main river, even a small stream or ditch. 

Land drainage consent covers all of the following:

  • any development within 8 metres of a watercourse
  • work on structures and features on or next to the watercourse
  • work on the watercourse itself
  • diversions to the watercourse 

It is important to note that:

  • you must get consent for both permanent and temporary work/structures
  • where work to create a permanent structure involves temporary work, for example, a water diversion, you'll need a separate consent for the temporary work
  • you must apply for consent for each separate piece of work or structure
  • land drainage consent is separate from any planning permission you might need
  • you might need consent even just for repairs or maintenance work

The rules about land drainage consent are complicated. 

We recommend you contact us for advice before you apply so we don't refuse your application unnecessarily.

You may need to apply for planning permission, carry out an  environmental impact assessment, or get other consents from the Environment Agency - we will advise.

Nature conservation sites and scheduled ancient monuments

If your site is within, next to or linked to a nature conservation site or a scheduled ancient monument, you must contact us as soon as possible. This is because we must consult Natural England about any application.

To apply for land drainage consent, download and print our  land drainage consent form (PDF, 185KB). Our  land drainage consent guidance notes (PDF, 114KB) will help you fill in the form. 

When to apply for land drainage consent

You must apply for land drainage consent at least 8 weeks before you plan to start the work. You will need longer if the site is a nature conservation site or ancient monument.

If you don't provide adequate data at the start or additional calculations or consultations are needed then we will extend the timescales until we have seen and approved all the relevant information.

Documents we will need from you when you apply for land drainage consent

Land drainage consent applications must include the following documents:  

  • a location plan based on an Ordnance Survey map
  • a site plan showing the existing site, your proposals, and any existing structures which may influence the hydraulics of the watercourse
  • upstream and downstream cross sections for any work that encroaches into any watercourse, drawn as if looking downstream and including details of existing and proposed features and water levels
  • longitudinal sections along the centre line of the watercourse extending both upstream and downstream and showing existing and proposed features including water levels, bed levels, and structures
  • detailed drawings of materials to be used for any structures
  • detailed drawings of the location of any proposed service pipes or cables which may affect the maintenance of the watercourse
  • details of any tree, plant, pond or wetland area that may be affected
  • details of any proposed planting or seeding
  • for dams and weirs, a plan showing the extent of the water held back under normal and flood conditions and any land drains affected
  • a method statement explaining how you will do the work
  • proof of any extra permissions and consents you need

All plans and drawings must be drawn up by an engineer or surveyor and at a clearly stated appropriate scale.

When you have all the documents ready and you've completed the form, please send everything to us with a cheque for payment. You can email us electronic versions of the form and documents, but you'll need to put the cheque in the post.

Email the land drainage consent team

Post cheques to:

Cheshire East Council
Flood Risk Management Team
6th Floor Delamere House
Delamere Street

After you apply for land drainage consent

When we get your application, we will review your plans and check your proposals will not do any of the following:

  • increase flood risk
  • pose a threat to the environment
  • cause unreasonable disruption to anyone else

We may come back to you to discuss the details.

The law gives us 8 weeks from the date you pay to make our decision.

The fee for land drainage consent is £50 per structure or piece of work.

When you get land drainage consent, you must follow the points listed in the consent. If you don't, we can fine you.

The law governing land drainage consent is the  Land Drainage Act.  

A riparian owner is anyone who owns property or land where there is a watercourse within or adjacent to the boundaries of their land.

Watercourses includes any river, stream, brook, beck or ditch these may be open to daylight or culverted and piped underground.

For more details see owning a watercourse 

Page last reviewed: 22 March 2022