David Smoker 13 July 2015

'Nibbling' away at urban surface water flooding

The planning process is now tasked with driving the implementation of sustainable drainage systems, to reduce the problem of urban surface water flooding, in major developments and redevelopments. Realistically this can only ever serve to slow down the problem.

With the current rules meaning not all new developments will need to comply – and whilst we continue to pave over our gardens and extend our homes - the requirement to retrofit is becoming ever greater.

Without a different approach to surface water management, flooding will continue to worsen. Already, four million households are at threat of surface water flooding and with the UK population set to reach 70 million by 2018, we can foresee even greater pressure on urban infrastructure.

Whilst masterplanning has a role to play, there is also a crucial need for ‘nibbling’ and implementing small-scale, local SUDS retro-fit schemes.

Green roofs, rain gardens, rills and channels not only provide a habitat for a variety of flora and fauna, they also have a positive impact on surface water management.

Of course for small-scale schemes to have a major bearing, two things need to happen. Firstly, we need to reach a critical mass – and this will only be achieved with joined up thinking.

Town planning, regeneration and traffic calming projects all have the potential to contribute. Derbyshire Street Pocket Park, for example, began as a project to improve a dead-end road in Bethnal Green that had become a hub for anti-social behaviour and fly tipping: It became an exemplar street-greening scheme incorporating SuDS, due to the collaborative working of the Oxford House community centre and Tower Hamlets. However, compartmentalisation across local authority services and planning departments can mean that all too often opportunities to retro-fit like this are missed.

Secondly, we need to educate the public on how to live with and appreciate SuDS. Local residents may initially view a rain garden or pocket park as reducing on-street parking until the benefits of flooding reduction and improvement in visual amenity are accepted.

Whereas government schemes, building regulations and levies have all contributed to the energy efficiency agenda, the mounting issue of surface water management has attracted less attention, despite being a real threat to the resilience of our communities.

Local authorities should play a pivotal role – but they need to think outside the box. Every opportunity for ‘nibbling’ needs to be exploited, if we are ever going to achieve the step-change towards cohesive SUDs retrofit programmes that we so desperately need.

David Smoker is business development manager at ACO.

For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Travel Information Data Technician

Essex County Council
Up to £25581 per annum
This is an exciting opportunity to work across all aspects of the Integrated Passenger Transport Unit (IPTU). Working with a passionate and dedicated England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Planning Strategy & Implementation Manager

Essex County Council
£57621 - £61410 per annum
Planning Strategy & Implementation Manager Permanent, Full Time £57,621 to £61,410 per annum Location
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Accountant

Telford & Wrekin Council
£39,571 - £42,614
Are you a qualified Accountant looking to take the next step in your career? Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Family Assessment Worker

Telford & Wrekin Council
£25,419 to £27,514
We have a great opportunity for a full time Family Assessment Worker in the Parenting Assessment Team. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£23,023 - £24,920
The post holder will tackle environmental crimes and unlawful parking. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.