Down the drain-Answer to readers question published in Irish Times 28th January 2016

I am replacing gutters and down-pipes at the front of my house, which faces onto a footpath. The existing down-pipes take a route involving two angles to a drain, or shore, on my property. To save money, it has been suggested that the down-pipes are simplified, and that they should discharge onto the footpath. Do I need permission for this?

A It is not uncommon to see downpipes discharge directly onto footpaths, particularly in urban areas. In the past this was accepted practice, particularly when road surfaces, and indeed paths, were permeable and water would soak away to the ground.

The introduction of impermeable tar and concrete meant that rainwater gullies were necessary to deliver water to the drainage system. If water was discharged to the path or road, this could lead to ponding or flooding.

Your property faces onto the public footpath. You advise that there are inlet gullies on your property. It has been suggested that the gullies can be done away with and that water can simply be discharged onto the footpath. I would not recommend this.

It may lead to ponding on the path or roadway and this can lead to splashing and wetting of your property. It is important that rainwater is carried away to reduce the occurrence of dampness, or the creation of a hazard in cold weather when the water freezes.

The discharge of water onto the public footpath or roadway is not allowed by local authorities and most modern planning permissions will have a condition to this effect. I would recommend that if you are replacing the downpipes that you maintain the existing gullies/inlets.

Noel Larkin is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland,