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Site Suitability Assessment (SSA)

Local authorities will not approve planning applications on planning projects that involve significant changes to the development site – such as for the installation of wastewater treatment systems – without an EPA site suitability assessment.

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Site Suitability

Whenever a development project involves significantly altering a plot of land to fit a new purpose, a site suitability assessment (SSA) would act as an early review to ensure that it is plausible to carry out the planned works. Alongside clarifying the feasibility of the development plans, an SSA also gives the local council demonstratable evidence that will help with planning applications.

Examples of when site suitability assessments may be applicable include environmental conservation, hazard mitigation, industrial facilities, infrastructure projects, land use planning, real estate development, renewable energy installations and risk assessment. The most common reason for an SSA, however, is for gauging the practicality of fitting a wastewater treatment system.

Wastewater Treatment

Prior to installing advanced wastewater treatment systems on a development site, a site suitability assessment is pivotal. Without an SSA beforehand and a viable wastewater treatment option, drinking water may be deemed unsanitary and unsafe, plumbing may be incorrectly aligned, and the surrounding environment may suffer.

Other than the factors regarding hygiene, the importance of site suitability assessments on a system designed for treating wastewater is based on acceptance in the local community, adequate infrastructure planning, compliance with regulations and policies, environmental impact, potential future expansion and growth, and a full wastewater treatment design that matches the dimensions of the development site.

Wastewater Management

The likelihood of a wastewater treatment system depends on the specifications of the particular site. A site suitability assessment (SSA) will decide whether an on-site treatment system will work, and it will also anticipate the balanced flow of water through sub-surface materials and the subsoil once the wastewater system enters different sections of the piping.

On untouched plots of land, an SSA for a system put in place to treat wastewater coming from a building is fairly standard. An inspection specifically undertaken for a wastewater system includes consideration of certain factors such as the effectiveness and length of time for water retention, and it is important that the wastewater treatment supplier can meet the criteria for providing adequate treatment.

Wastewater Treatment Process

Although treatment systems vary, other similar systems typically follow the same structure. Instead of public sewerage systems, a wastewater treatment system would be necessary for dwelling houses and single houses in rural areas for the safe disposal of human waste and all other used water from the building, such as anywhere that water empties from the kitchen and bathroom.

In traditional advanced treatment systems, waste from the building at the ground level moves downwards and pipework enters a septic tank via a grease trap. It then passes through a distribution box, and across multiple percolation areas that enable the on-site wastewater treatment unit to offer both treatment features of filtering the contents and moving it further downwards for safe groundwater use.

Percolation Tests

A percolation test involves creating multiple holes in the ground and filling them with water to see how water drains from them and through the soil. Percolation tests determine how fast water drains from the development site, and to save on damage to the ground, the same test hole dimensions can be used for the same test procedure in other parts of the SSA.

At the earliest stages of planning permission, percolation testing helps to produce an understanding of the soil density. The percolation area used for a p-test can then provide the surveyor with data that will dictate the desirable system to be installed on the development site. If there aren’t suitable ground conditions or sufficient space for a wastewater treatment system, it is possible to fail a percolation test.

Site Suitability Analysis

Process for a Site Suitability Assessment

A site assessment of the suitability of the site for the intended purpose usually includes five key elements:

  1. A desk study intended to provide information on relevant details about the plot of land in relation to the development plans.
  2. A field visit as part of a visual assessment to review core areas of the development site that will instruct on the next steps.
  3. Intervention on the site to address necessary methods of testing that will uncover vital data that needs to be retrieved for the assessment.
  4. Initiating any testing that will confirm or deny the feasibility of the proposed planning works on the site.
  5. Producing recommendations to the developer based on the previous four steps that enable the planning project to move forwards and support the planning application.

In the common case of site assessments being carried out for the installation of an on-site wastewater treatment system, stages one and two would be undertaken in the same way. Stage three, however, would involve creating test holes in the ground to evaluate the soil’s ability for site drainage and address soil and subsoil depth. Stage four would then involve a percolation test, and the advice in stage five would judge an appropriate option for the proposed system of wastewater management.

Factors to Consider in Site Suitability Analysis

Numerous aspects are evaluated as part of an SSA in the strategy of deciphering if a development site caters to the purpose of the specific project. Such factors include:

  • Air quality
  • Compliance with planning policies and regulations
  • Ecological sensitivity
  • Economic development
  • Geotechnical considerations
  • Land use regulations
  • Natural hazards
  • Potential for future growth
  • Proximity to utilities

  • Results of prior surveys, such as Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)
  • Size and shape of the site
  • Soil conditions
  • Technical requirements
  • Transportation
  • Views of local communities, stakeholders and affected parties
  • Waste disposal
  • Water resources
  • Zoning

Site Suitability Report

Following on from an SSA, a full report will be drafted by the surveyor to detail the results from the inspection at length. It will also explain the nature of the EPA site suitability assessment, highlight worthwhile features of the plot of land that correlate with the aims of the survey, and offer measures that will give the developer an opportunity to satisfy planning requirements.

Collecting information for a planning application involves ensuring that all possible reasons for the local planning authority to deny it are identified, addressed and eliminated. Any applications for planning permission that needs a prior SSA would see the local authorities demanding evidence that the development site is capable of facilitating the alterations in a safe and contained way.

Experts in Site Suitability and Wastewater Management

All site assessments on suitability for certain planning activities are guided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As such, each site assessor we send out for an EPA site suitability assessment pays consideration to the EPA code of practice as outlined on the Environmental Protection Agency website, as well as the current regulations and planning policies enforced by the local council and relevant organisations.

We guarantee that every surveyor Arbtech works with is a suitably qualified person with a solid track record and show acknowledgement to public health, observing health and safety precautions alongside their duties to conduct a full site assessment with the quality and insights needed to assist with planning applications. Through situating our team all over the UK, we can also arrange for site suitability assessments in all areas.

Site Suitability Assessment Cost

If ever a client recognises or is instructed that a site suitability assessment is required, we do our utmost to offer a cost-effective solution. Part of what gives us the ability to do this is how our surveyors are spread across the country, meaning our operating costs are lower and clients are free from unnecessary charges that would have otherwise naturally arisen.

Once a client has spoken to us, we start with a baseline fee for each type of assessment before factoring in the specifications of the development site and the planning project. By using this approach, we can implement a framework that sees developers paying a larger fee for larger projects and a smaller fee for smaller projects, avoiding a universal sum that all clients would unfairly be forced to pay.

Ask Our Team for a Quote

You can claim a free quote from our administration team by checking out our contact page, calling us directly, or filling out a quick quote form online. We can then take down details of your site and project, and any potential targets you may have for an SSA, and with that information, put together a quote that reflects all of the details you passed on to us.

Considering how site suitability rests on many factors and moving parts that could make or break the proposed development plans, we act in a way that mitigates serious problems, addresses less advantageous conditions, and provides the best, most pragmatic and simplest solution. Providing you follow our guidance to the letter, you should see no problem in meeting your aims and seeing a successful planning application.

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