Posts Tagged ‘SUDS’

Marshalls and the Athletes Village


Kym Jones, MD of Applied Landscape Design, talks about the delivery of the Athletes Village public realm and her work with Marshalls on the project.

Marshalls on

Applied Landscape Design


Guest post: Floods crisis: Government indecision and delay “must stop now”


Alex Stephenson, Director of Hydro International UK’s Stormwater Divison, explains why the implementation of the Pitt Review needs an injection of urgency, and why that ought to draw upon engineered SuDS technologies.

Flood image

As Britain is gripped by a floods crisis, Government indecision and inertia is seriously delaying vital work to protect thousands of homes and properties in the UK.

Devastating flooding is causing millions of pounds worth of damage in scenes reminiscent of the 2007 floods that prompted a groundbreaking Government review by Sir Michael Pitt. Yet how much real progress has been made? (more…)

Getting it right: water management and landscape design


Guest post: Claire Thirlwall is the director of landscape architecture practice Thirlwall Associates. She specialises in river restoration and water management, and also works on more traditional landscape architecture projects. Here, Claire outlines the pitfalls and opportunities presented by water in landscape design and construction schemes.

Water, and more precisely how you manage that water, can be make or break on a construction project. From the water falling on the roof of each building to flood water rising up through the drainage network, dealing with water within your site can be a real challenge.


“Sensitive SUDS” for alleviating flood risk


The past decade has seen destructive floods throughout the UK. With the future set to get wetter, there’s a greater urgency to upgrade flood defence systems and implement the latest drainage technologies and techniques to protect homes, infrastructure and lives.

In the news

The past decade has seen widespread flooding in the UK, almost year-in year-out. Some of the most notable floods occurred in:

  • 2000 – the autumn of 2000 was the wettest since records began with almost 10,000 homes flooded throughout England and Wales, causing £3.5 billion worth of damage.
  • 2007 – the wettest May to July since records began was recorded in 2007, when the UK experienced further severe flooding.
  • 2009 – in November 2009, flooding in Cumbria resulted in catastrophic damage to homes and infrastructure, with the town’s vital Northside Bridge collapsing.


SUDS resources and publications for designers


Designing sustainable drainage systems, whether urban or rural, requires a flexible approach. As with most construction projects, there is no formula. Rather, it is down to the skill and creativity of the designer to come up with a solution to each problem.

As landscape architect Sam Shaw of Ian White Associates advised me: “there is no one definite way to do a sustainable drainage system, as the design will depend on site location, the capacity of the scheme overall, ground conditions and other site-specific factors. There are a range of solutions, from fully urbanised below-ground storage to open, purely rural designs”.

Rice Park (oblique aerial)


In England and Wales, the requirement for sustainable drainage systems is now part of byelaws and other legislation – in particular, the Building Regulations Part H, which requires that where practical surface water drainage from any building development be drained, preferably to a soakaway or infiltration system. If this is not possible then the next preferred option is to drain to a watercourse, with connection to a sewer as the last choice.


Costing the benefits of green infrastructure

King’s Cross Canal - law_keven on Flickr

King’s Cross Canal - law_keven on Flickr

Mark Smulian on Planning Resource argues that ‘a lack of political commitment and a shortage of green skills are pushing urban landscaping down the pecking order despite the potential benefits it offers for improving local quality of life.’

He links into CABE’s Grey to Green campaign which wants to see skills and funding shift from grey infrastructure – think roads – to green infrastructure – think parks, gardens, allotments and green roofs.

He also notes the PricewaterhouseCoopers survey which found that councils spend, on average, 4.3% of their budgets on green infrastructure. Increasing this a little could have a noticeable impact on other areas of concern / expenditure, including local air quality, climate change and health.

The hardy amongst you might like to look-up a recent Dutch research report – Morbidity is related to a green living environment.

The researchers looked at the morbidity data of 195 general practitioners in 96 Dutch practices, serving a population of 345,143 people, and the percentage of green space within a 1km radius of each household.

The results were quite clear. After stripping out demographic and socio-economic factors, the ‘annual prevalence rate of 15 of the 24 disease clusters was lower in living environments with more green space in a 1 km radius.’

The study stresses the importance of green space close to home for children and lower socio-economic groups.

For more on green infrastructure try Brice Maryman’s and Nate Cormier’s Green Infrastructure Wiki.

I sourced the Oakland County (Michigan, USA) Green Infrastructure Program from there. It’s particularly strong on the economic benefits of the programme, and what they term the ‘visioning process’.

Oakland County’s Green Infrastructure Program focuses on identifying an interconnected network of green space that conserves natural ecosystem values and functions, guides sustainable development, and provides associated economic and quality-of-life benefits to our communities.

Sustainable Cities – ‘Preparing towns and cities for a changing climate’ – is also a good place to look for the UK perspective.

It’s strong on the benefits – quality of life, healthier residents, stronger local economy, protection from climate change.

And it also provides examples of best practice. There’s Manchester’s Green Streets project that is planting street trees in areas of socio-economic deprivation where there is currently little green cover. Whilst Sutcliffe Park in London is an example of a new floodplain, engineered to protect Lewisham from flooding and introduce more green space into the area.

LDT backs SUDS standards

Cloburn Quarry Company drainage aggregates for SUDS schemes

Sustainable drainage systems

The Landscape Design Trust has announced plans to give training on forthcoming national SUDS standards.

Defra and the Welsh Government Assembly are preparing the standards to encourage the use of sustainable drainage systems in new-build and redevelopment projects.

Saying that uptake so far has been ‘disappointingly slow’, the LDT – working with the Landscape Institute and the Environment Agency – now intends to offer direct help to local authorities and designers that want to use SUDS technologies and principles.

ESI references:

Water in Chicago – 2106 – a sustainable future

UrbanLab - growing water in Chicago

UrbanLab - 'growing water' in Chicago

UrbanLab presents ‘growing water’, a sustainable vision of how Chicago could develop a more holistic relationship with water, which is what, UrbanLab argues, will become the world’s most precious resource within the next hundred years.

Can Chicago recycle and retain its water resources, instead of constantly depleting them?

ESI references:

Defra on Saving our Soils


British Sugar TOPSOIL

A Defra study has highlighted the dangers posed by general degradation of soil quality in England.

It explores the potential impact on agriculture and food growth, and on flood alleviation.

Its proposals would affect the construction industry by regulating handling and removal of soil from land under development for housing and infrastructure. At the same time, the agricultural industrial will be required to change its approach to fertiliser use.

ESI references:

Climate change and landscape architecture

Picture: from ASLA

Picture: from ASLA

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has pulled together a survey of online resources as part of its Professional Practice facility: “There are a range of landscape architecture-related mitigation strategies that, if employed at mass scale, can help reduce GHG emissions”.

The list covers:

  • Site planning
  • Open spaces
  • Plant selection
  • Stormwater management
  • Green roofs
  • Smart growth communities
  • Complete streets

ESI references: