Rain to resource

The growing importance of SuDS

With construction on the increase in the UK, Michael Davies, Technical Manager from AG explains how architects can benefit from including SuDS in their next project.

SuDS represent a collection of strategies, management practices, structures, and design solutions that drain surface water-reducing flood risk – efficiently and sustainably from development sites. Flooding and flash flooding have been all too prevalent over the last few years in the UK and mitigating flood risk is becoming even more important, as is water conservation, meaning architects, developers and housebuilders are facing tighter planning controls than ever before. This has led to many domestic and commercial projects calling for new and innovative ways to manage water runoff that arises from developments and drainage.

Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) can contribute to both of these necessary needs. As well as this SuDs can improve water quality – adding value to a project and making them a key tool in every developer’s toolbox.

In recent years we have seen an increase in rainfall throughout the UK.

This, combined with the fact that we are building more than ever, has led to an increase in water-stressed areas where the conservation of water is a critical challenge.

This has put architects under an intense spotlight – facing unprecedented pressure to introduce more sustainable elements into their designs. There is often little warning when it comes to surface water flooding and although weather forecasting is improving all the time, it is not always possible to forecast intense rain.

The severe flooding seen over the last few years has no doubt influenced people’s perception of climate control and subsequently, we are seeing the government raise SuDS higher up in their agenda – forcing architects to seriously consider the role of SuDS in their next project.

At AG, our aim is to enhance landscapes and encourage local biodiversity.

Our Xflo Permeable Paving solution is designed to remove surface water rapidly and safely at a rate of over fifty times the expected rainfall of a one-hundred-year storm.

The harnessed water can then slowly infiltrate through the system and back into the ground with pollutants removed, or in line with Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) principles, be attenuated for recycling for both domestic and commercial use or rewardingly diverted to create natural wildlife ponds, creating socially interactive high quality community spaces, encouraging rich and beneficial biodiversity. as well as a variety of styles and aesthetics giving architects and specifiers plenty of choice – without having to compromise on form and function.

SuDS are becoming more prevalent in the construction sector, which is perhaps no surprise. As it stands Wales is the only country in the United Kingdom with legislation in place that requires all planning applications to include SuDS, however, the UK government has announced that this year England will follow suit, following pressure from the industry to act now and implement schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. This means that most new constructions in England will require a SuDs-specific authorisation by the SuDS Approval Body (SAB) prior to construction commencing.

This new focus on SuDS can be used to a developer’s advantage, with a well-designed SuDS system likely to speed up the approval process – delighting builders and homeowners alike. As well as massively improving the aesthetics of a development, creating a better and more desirable place to settle, quality SuDS which incorporate open spaces such as ponds can increase land value and house prices as much as 10% – providing a new opportunity to increase capital.

Schedule 3 of the act established a process to ensure that any new development includes high quality SuD. The legislation will, according to the government, “reduce the risk of surface water flooding, pollution and help alleviate the pressures on our traditional drainage and sewerage systems”.

Consequently, architects are beginning to set aside more land for green areas, increasing the landscaping and the number of trees taking carbon out of the atmosphere – therefore resulting in a more positive environmental impact.

There is no doubt that SuDS are here to stay.

After all, we must continue to be able to control and mitigate flood risk – improving water quality whilst significantly contributing to the UK’s carbon-neutral goal.  Right across the construction sector, we should focus on incorporating them into schemes from the beginning right through to the end.

However, it is also important for architects to know that SuDS is not a case of one-size-fits-all. Therefore, careful consideration should take place to determine the most appropriate system for each project.

Hardscaping has a purpose on every landscape, to counteract the loss of green space, developers must consider sustainable hardscaping options to manage the environmental impact of a build. With legislation continuing to change, SuDs can play an important role in the route to sustainability within the industry.

Want to find out more?

Our knowledgable Technical Team are here to help.