This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book. Drainage Systems - SuDS Case Study - SuDS for Amenity

As a most versatile sustainable drainage system (SUDS) technique, concrete block permeable paving is particularly useful as a source control at the head of the SUDS management train. It reduces peak rate, total volume and frequency of rainwater runoff, and is also particularly effective at removing water-borne pollution. But it also offers the important – and often missed - opportunity of a gradual supply of treated water, something that Bob Bray of Robert Bray Associates exploits for amenity, harvesting and habitat enhancement in recent projects.

now (read case study - Adopting SuDS). Over this period, extensive experience has been gained and lessons learnt.

Firstly, delegates visited a high-density urban housing development in Abingdon with permeable paving still working well without problems after several years with no maintenance. Then they moved on to Great Western Park Didcot (discussed earlier) where the first phases of this massive development are taking shape. Here, various SuDS features are being employed across the whole project. But now water is also considered as an asset, not just a problem, as on other recent Oxfordshire sites.

SuDS in Practice

This approach is also demonstrated by the The Lamb Drove SuDS Monitoring project in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire, discussed in the final session. Despite the modest size of the site, it demonstrates the use of as many SuDS techniques as possible, including concrete block permeable paving, used in combination to form an effective management train and fully integrated with landscaping - proving to be both popular with residents and effective. Most importantly, project monitoring demonstrates that SuDS work and should cost less than conventional piped drainage in terms of initial, maintenance and whole-life costs (read case study on page 26).

The last session also aired concerns from housing developers about the lack of direction and guidance on implementation of SuDS by government and the potential impact on cost. Adoption and maintenance issues were discussed by several existing SuDS practitioners from local authorities, with a clear consensus developing that the full engagement of all stakeholders from the start of a project was key to its successful implementation. The 2012 SuDSsource Conference ended with a tour of exemplary projects, clearly demonstrating the simplicity and robustness of SuDS, and its importance in the fight against flooding, as well as providing new design opportunities and a better environment for us all.

At a high-density town-centre housing scheme in Stamford, most public areas between buildings are concrete block permeable paving which also accepts runoff from other hard areas and roofs. Stored, treated water then passes from the paving directly into planted rills and canals, which add interest and much-needed greenery to the courtyard environment, before passing into the nearby river. This principle is expanded on a hillside Co-housing scheme in Stroud. Here, treated, stored water from concrete block permeable paved car parking feeds a ‘waterfall’ onto a planted swale, then via planted rills into a wildlife pond and existing stream.

At a pioneering school in Milton Keynes, a terraced sequence of permeable paving car parks removes pollutants, substantially improving the quality of water serving two ponds intended to encourage long-term population by wildlife - notably the ‘protected’ great crested newts indigenous to the site. Other sections of concrete block permeable paving at the school - on level areas used for play - collect and store rainwater for toilet flushing in the school buildings.

Bob Bray continues to explore the sustainable amenity potential for water treated and stored within concrete block permeable paving on various projects, including schools - many covered by an Interpave case study on Robert Bray Associates, via

Case Study –

Adopting SuDS Experience Oxfordshire County Council has taken a positive and pragmatic approach to adopting

SuDS and concrete block permeable paving for some 15 years now. At Oxfordshire, SuDS is considered an essential component of any development and concrete block permeable paving as mainstream technology. Highways Adoption Officer Barry West explained: “With hundreds of permeable paved schemes around the County now, we have developed real confidence in the technology and how it performs. We have had no problems with any permeable pavements – even during the 2007 summer floods.”

Once the new Flood and Water Management Act takes effect – following implementation of recently published draft National Standards – ‘SuDS Approving Bodies’ (SABs) will be formed to both approve and adopt SuDS schemes. Again, Oxfordshire have taken a lead, as Barry West explained: “We have been using Section 38 agreements to adopt concrete block permeable paving for a decade or so – and it works well, particularly when all parties are involved from the very start of the planning process.

“We have already put in place what is needed to operate as an SAB, so that when the new Act does take effect, it will simply be business as usual.” Oxfordshire’s example and this case study will help to reassure and inform other authorities, including the new SABs, and demonstrate the long-term successful application of concrete block permeable paving as an essential SuDS technique. The case study and a wide range of other information on permeable paving and SuDS can be downloaded via: 25

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