We were delighted to accompany Baroness Parminter, Liberal Democrat Peer and spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to see SuDS in action on a new development in Gloucestershire last week.
Our Innovation Director, Dr Paul Ellis joined the Baroness, Phil Chatfield from the Welsh Government, Mark Harris from the House Builders Federation and the team from Formpave (part of Forterra) to inspect permeable paving and take part in a round table discussion on the role of SuDS in property development.
Baroness Parminter, who tabled an amendment on SuDS legislation in the House of Lords earlier this year, was reviewing the successful installation of Formpave’s Aquaflow paving system at a nearby development.
The site at Holcot Close, Coleford in the Forest of Dean was built by Bell Homes and Chairman Keith Bell highlighted that permission for the development would not have been granted had a SuDS scheme been omitted from the application.
When they first purchased the land, the requirement for SuDS wasn’t known. This highlights how important an early understanding of site conditions and prevailing, increasingly more demanding planning conditions that prioritise SuDS, are known early by developers.
The site is on a slope so SuDS solution required a more bespoke management approach. The original scheme included storage ponds but these were replaced with permeable paving which provides the storage as part of the access roadways. This made the project economically viable and met the Local Authority’s runoff infiltration requirements.
The team went on a tour of the Formpave factory to see how permeable paving was block manufactured. This included Formpave’s ThermaPave, a SuDS capable of harvesting surface rainwater, which can then be used as the energy source for a ground source heat pump to provide energy efficient heating and cooling for buildings, effectively turning paved areas such as car parks into energy centres.
After lunch, we took part in a round table discussion on future legislation for SuDS in property development.
The Baroness reiterated that there was a strong appetite from SuDS as demonstrated by the recent EFRA Committee report recommending further mandation and improved adoption of the maintenance of SuDS schemes for all developments.
In the round table she confirmed the terms of reference for the Planning Review, which should be issued before Christmas, will be critical. There will be a period of stakeholder engagement, with the Review reaching out to industry experts to demonstrate the economic and environmental arguments for SuDS. The Review will be completed by spring next year. Dr Paul Ellis said:
“It was a valuable day spent with the Baroness demonstrating how SuDS make sense for communities and for holistic flood mitigation strategies at a more local level.”
“Permeable paving, together with a variety of other SuDS features can have a dramatic impact on reducing surface water flooding that cause greater problems downstream. It was encouraging to see the ongoing parliamentary support for greater mandation of SuDS, for which robust early knowledge of site suitability on drainage conditions will be key for developers and architects.”