Progressing Water Sensitive Urban Design
Water Sensitive Urban Design provides towns and cities with the opportunity to create beautiful, successful and resilient places. It can be said that we can no longer deny the importance of the relationship between water and our urban areas, which must be given a higher priority in providing integrated solutions to flood risk management, sustainable water use and supply, and the improvement of water quality in our treasured watercourses.
In March this year, the Mayor of London and RoDMA announced a tender to create the UK’s largest floating village in London’s Royal Docks, on an area one and a half times the size of Green Park. In a recent article Sue Illman, from The Guardian highlights the concern of built environment professionals that water management is considered too late in the planning and design process of development.
“We already know, for example, that sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) can be a cost-effective way to prevent surface flooding while creating valuable public amenities. But we need to go further than SuDS and start joining the dots between flood risk management and water resource management, and start putting water at the heart of discussions about what makes places great to live.”
ACO have helped fund a CIRIA led project aimed to draw up guidelines for designers, planners and architects for use in Water Sensitive Urban Design – the process of integrating water cycle management with the built environment through planning and urban design. Two main principles are essential to its application:
1. All elements of the water cycle and their interconnections are considered concurrently to achieve an outcome that sustains a healthy natural environment while meeting human needs.
2. Consideration of the water cycle is made from the outset, and throughout the design and planning process. Accordingly, water management solutions seek to meet the expectations and aspirations for design of successful places.
Benefits of Water Sensitive Urban Design are endless, providing greater security of water supply with a reduction in flood risk, improvement of water quality in watercourses, a reduction of carbon and energy associated with water management, increased support of local food production and a creation of more attractive places.