Last week, Lee Barnes, Managing Director of Inspire Design and Development, spoke to CLC’s audience about sustainable drainage systems (SuDs) and how surface water management can be integrated into the landscaping of a site and the positives of doing so.

Inspire Design is a Chesterfield based consultancy specialising in the planning, design and delivery of residential, commercial and leisure developments. By combining expert knowledge and technical design skills, Inspire work collaboratively with clients such as housebuilders, landowners and private developers on projects to unlock their full potential.  Its most recent focus has been on SuDS and how to achieve good design.

Why is it important?

Historically development and the way our towns and cities have evolved has contributed to the surface water flooding issues we have today.  Whether that is from land use changes affecting how a catchment responds to rain fall or from development being allowed in inappropriate locations.  The latter has been controlled more tightly for some time now through the planning process where flood zone maps have been used to steer proposed development away from areas with existing flooding issues. How development affects a natural catchments response to rainfall has only recently been considered.

In the name of sustainable drainage we often see over engineered monstrosities on residential developments, including buried pipes, tanks and giant craters in the ground. This is not the way to design sustainable drainage and thankfully is an approach which is now being resisted by lead local flood authorities around the country, however as there are currently in excess of 40 guidance documents in existence relating to the design of SuDS, there are inconsistencies within the industry.

How do we achieve good design?
  • Collaboration: You need buy in from everybody involved in the process in order to focus on incorporating the right SuDS systems, how to save costs and how to save space by ‘doubling up’ land uses.
  • Early consideration: If the existing drainage patterns, site features and topography are taken into account at the blank canvas stage then you can incorporate features into the design that are truly integrated and create landscaped areas.
  • What are SuDS?: SuDS should where possible deal with water where it falls, keep water at the surface and be landscape and ideally planting lead.
  • Understand the clear benefits: By doing so allows us to become SuDS advocates and drive forward good design solutions.

Change is possible and needs to be driven by us all collectively, which is why Lee has set up The Sustainable Drainage Academy (The SuDS Academy). This is a working group which takes advantage of Inspire’s expertise in SuDS to a focus on driving forward the simplification and interpretation of the current SuDS landscape, by focusing on;

  • Collaboration between architects, landscape designers and engineers.
  • Driving research to fill the knowledge and case study gaps in SuDS design and operation, to create a more informed picture of SuDS
  • Building relationships with the many bodies involved in the design, approval and guidance relating to SuDS design.

If you wish to get involved in The SuDS Academy, please join our Linked In Group ‘The Sustainable Drainage Academy’.