Improving Flood Resilience in Urban Neighbourhoods through Small Interventions: WATER MANAGEMENT Smart Class 2024 Retrospective


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Project Centre’s Joe Hitchman (Associate) and Swetha Gunasekaran (Senior Urban Designer) took the stage at WATER MANAGEMENT Smart Class 2024 to discuss the role of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and urban landscape design in mitigating flood risks at a local scale.

SuDS, designed to mimic natural drainage processes, offer multifunctional solutions to manage stormwater run-off effectively. By integrating SuDS options such as permeable pavements, rain gardens, and swales into urban landscapes, communities can mitigate flood risks while enhancing biodiversity and urban aesthetics.

Urban landscape design complements SuDS by seamlessly incorporating green infrastructure elements into the built environment. Vegetated swales and rain gardens, for instance, not only manage stormwater but also mitigate urban heat islands, improve air quality, and create recreational spaces.

Moreover, these interventions can be tailored to be implemented in a variety of urban settings, and locations, making use of other highway schemes to maximise the benefits of SuDS even where the primary intention is focused around traffic calming.

Joe and Swetha’s presentation also explained why community engagement is crucial for successful flood resilience interventions. Collaboration between local governments, planners, landscape architects, engineers, and community members ensure holistic approaches that address local needs.

Principal Landscape Architect, Robert Park, added his expert input during Project Centre’s subsequent roundtable sessions with our delegates.

Presentation highlights:

  • What are Sustainable Drainage Systems? A natural approach to managing drainage in and around properties and other developments. Rather than relying solely on traditional piped drainage systems, SuDS aim to align modern drainage practices with natural water processes;
  • SuDS Opportunities – There are many opportunities to integrate rain gardens into the public realm. e.g. public realm improvements, traffic managements, cycle routes, parking controls, modal filters;
  • Greener and more flood resilient streets and town centres;
  • London Borough of Newham Case Study:
  • Newham divided the borough into seven Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) areas – Maryland, Odessa, Manbey, Atherton, Woodgrange and Capel, Stratford Park;

  • LTN Area 4 Atherton deep dive…
  • Keogh Road small interventions e.g. proposed paving, planting, seating/informal play, trees, road sign, camera enforcement etc;
  • LTN Keogh Road SuDS – SuDS at source; Maximising catchment area by using flow diffusers; Avoiding connections into Thames Water assets;
  • LTN on Aldworth Road – Maximising run-off interception; Accounting for sloped sites; Restricting infiltration near buildings;
  • Brooke Road SuDS – Pioneering integration of different SuDS features; Connectivity between SuDS (permeable paving, rain gardens, attenuation tanks); Early engagement with utilities stakeholders, including Thames Water;
  • Eastcote Rain Gardens – Excellence in Flood and Water Management: Landscape Institute Award 2020;
  • Dalgarno Gardens – High quality streetscape with rain gardens

If you satisfy our regular delegate qualification criteria but were unable to join us in London on April 3rd for the live in-person event at Greencoat Place Conference Centre, CLICK HERE and complete the short “Download form” (located at the bottom of the post) to receive a unique link enabling free access to the presentation video recordings and slides (including the film footage and slides from Joe and Swetha’s initial presentation).

Those qualifying to receive the rich presentation content from this event include commissioning, procurement, innovation, trialling and partnering leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers, environmental managers, policy makers and planners from UK water companies and utilities, wastewater and sewer operators, lead local flood authorities (unitary authorities and county councils), city/borough/metropolitan councils, district councils, combined authorities, highways authorities, prime contractors, general insurers, large water consumers, central governmental and regulatory bodies (e.g. Defra, DCLG, Ofwat, Environment Agency, DWI, SEPA), independent industry and consumer organisations (e.g. Water UK, CCW) etc.

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WATER MANAGEMENT Smart Classes show key buyer side stakeholders how deploying the latest digital technology-enabled solutions, data-driven strategies and best practices can help manage the distribution and management of water resources, and also offers utilities an opportunity to improve efficiency and customer service whilst reducing water scarcity and supporting the drive towards a net zero future.


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