London Borough of Croydon

An ordinary watercourse is a watercourse that is not part of a main river. This includes rivers, streams, ditches, drains, cuts, culverts, dikes, sluices, sewers (other than public sewers within the meaning of the Water Industry Act 1991) and passages, through which water flows.

Contact if you are still unsure whether you are dealing with an ordinary watercourse.

Our responsibility

On 6 April 2012 the council gained responsibility for consenting works that affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse under the terms of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, Land Drainage Act 1991 and Water Resources Act 1991.

Regulation of ordinary watercourses consists of 2 elements:

  1. the issuing of consents for any changes to ordinary watercourses that might obstruct or alter the flow of an ordinary watercourse
  2. enforcement action to rectify unlawful and potentially damaging work to a watercourse

Working on or near a watercourse

If you intend to carry out work which may affect the flow or storage of water, you need to apply to us for consent, even if you already have planning permission. Approval is also required for any temporary works affecting the watercourse and a method of undertaking will need to be submitted prior to these works commencing.

If you think you may be doing work around a watercourse, contact us first to check whether consent is required on

If your work affects a main river, you will need to apply to the Environment Agency for consent.

Consent charge

The application fee is £50 per structure, which should be paid by cheque and posted with the application form which can be downloaded below.

Once your application is received with the appropriate fee, we have 2 months to assess your application. You will receive written confirmation within this period whether consent has been granted or not.

A copy of the cross-sections of consentable activities guidelines can be downloaded below, however each case will be assessed individually.

Failure to obtain consent

Failure to obtain consent prior to carrying out the works may be a criminal offence.

Any person acting in contravention of Section 23 of the Land Drainage Act 1991, may be liable, on conviction, to a fine of up to £5,000, and to a further fine of up to £40 for every day on which the contravention is continued after conviction.

Under Section 24 or of the Land Drainage Act 1991 we have the power (without prejudice to any other criminal proceedings) to take such action as may be necessary to remedy the effect of the contravention or failure to obtain consent, and to recover the expenses reasonably incurred by it in so doing from the person in default.


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