At present, water companies and local authorities don’t always look to adopt SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Solutions) like they do with more engineered solutions. Mark Jones, our in-house SuDS specialist, looks at what designers can do to reduce developer concerns about this.

If not adopted by the local water company or council, the long-term maintenance of a SuDS falls to the developer. They often cover these costs through a ground rent or service charge for new homeowners. For the larger developers this is generally accepted but it can put smaller developers off.

We actively encourage SuDS on all the sites we work on, so what can we do to help on smaller residential sites to mitigate these concerns?

The answer is to simplify the approach. If a site has open green space at the right location, then we would look to use a basin. This requires no regular maintenance other than grass cutting when dry, which can be carried out alongside grass cutting on the wider site at a marginal cost. This compares to a pond which may require silt clearance and annual marginal plant thinning along the edges.

If there is no open green space, we always think carefully about the positioning and accessibility of attenuation storage and soakaways, to help keep costs down. We encourage planting schemes that are low maintenance and the use of sympathetic hard landscaping as part of the design.

As champions of SuDS, we would of course welcome the adoption of all SuDS schemes, large and small, by the local water company or local authority. But we are pragmatists and recognise the impact this would have on resources in such organisations. So, given the need for sustainable approaches to managing the increasing challenges of dealing with surface water as the climate changes, we’ll continue to simplify our SuDs so that developers can see the financial and environmental benefits of incorporating them into site layouts.