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www.managingwater.co.uk Drainage Systems - SuDS embracing SuDS in Cambridgeshire


This handbook will be used as the local standards for SuDS in the county supported by the National Standards. In addition to detailing the local standards for SuDS in Cambridgeshire, the process of developing the handbook also helped raise awareness of the SAB duties, the associated implications, and reinforced on-going partnership working in flood risk management.” Sass Pledger, Flood and Water Manager, Cambridgeshire County Council


Development of Cambridgeshire’s SuDS handbook


Recognising the opportunity to proactively establish clear local standards, build relationships, and define internal processes early on, Cambridgeshire County commissioned AECOM to develop a SuDS handbook. Cambridgeshire receives the lowest rainfall in the UK, and water resources are limited, but conversely water is ever- present on the county’s surface as it has a generally flat topography, a high water table, and predominantly claysoil that makes it difficult for water to infiltrate. It is therefore unsurprising that the county has a long history of innovation in surface water management. In recent years, the area has continued to push the boundaries with the development of Cambridge City’s award-winning SuDS Design and Adoption Guide. Now, Cambridgeshire County’s handbook builds further on the knowledge developed in the area, and brings together local guidance on how stakeholders will work together and on how the SAB will


expect SuDS design to respond to local expectations.


It was clear while developing the handbook that including Cambridgeshire-specific standards would be essential to make the National Standards meaningful locally. As part of the process, 20 local SuDS standards were created and refined. These clearly communicate the local design considerations developers need to address when working in the county. Not only does this enshrine good design into local policy, but it also makes development in the county more attractive to developers, as it removes ambiguity regarding the types of acceptable drainage.


Solving problems together


While the National Standards and the handbook will provide crucial guidance and examples of good practice, Cambridgeshire also realised that half the challenge comes in communication and coordination. In developing the contents of the handbook, a series of workshops was held to raise awareness, establish local priorities and secure agreement on how the approval and adoption process will be handled. Establishing understanding and support from the local authorities in the county has been crucial, not only because of their role as the intermediary in handling and enforcing SuDS requirements alongside planning approvals, but in the local knowledge and expertise their staff can bring to the process. Sharing staff expertise in


drainage, maintenance, ecology and urban design will be crucial to delivering quality SuDS.


“Successful SuDS are dependent on many disciplines in different organisations coming together; communication and joint working are key to this. This promotes consistency, and opportunities can be realised from perceived constraints leading to more efficient, cost- effective processes and better places for people to live and work.” Simon Bunn, Sustainable Drainage Engineer, Cambridge City Council


Through stakeholder collaboration, checklists were created for the handbook that the SAB will use at various stages of approval and adoption. Four checklists outline the documentation and evidence the SAB will be seeking for design approval, construction verification, maintenance specifications, and asset transfer. While the checklists have been created for the SAB, they will benefit other stakeholders looking for insight into SuDS criteria the SAB is looking for.


In the age of localism, it is unlikely national policy will provide all the answers, and it will be crucial for county and local authorities to outline their own priorities and ensure they can be delivered locally. Cambridgeshire hopes to capitalise on the benefits SuDS can bring to the area, seeing this as both a challenge and an opportunity.


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