We are now into the initial phases of implementing pilot projects as part of our involvement in the Water Resilient Cities project.
Lead Partner Plymouth City Council have already begun works on site in the iconic and key commercial quarter of the city, Armada Way. Armada Way is situated in Plymouth’s city centre and is the city’s principle north – south linking street. This area connects the rail station at the north with Plymouth Hoe parkland and the city’s waterfront to the south. It was a key feature of the city’s rebuilding following the blitz in WW2. The project area is therefore a strategic green and blue corridor with a great deal of potential for maximising the co benefits of integrating SUDs compatible tree pits into the hard landscape.
The route is 1.25 Km in length and averages 45.5 metres wide, constituting an area of approximately 5.6 hectares of public realm. Previous administrations have also been keen to utilise this space as high quality landscaped public realm. Designed in 1943, it was built out in the 1950s as a wide boulevard with two-way carriageways both sides with feature greenspace in the middle lined with a double avenue of trees. During the 1980s, the main northern section was pedestrianised and an elaborate ornamental landscape style became characteristic of the area.
So why this area and what are the benefits of piloting SUDs tree pits solutions? It is critical to ensure that such projects are connected with an overarching vision for a city’s future development and that the community are engaged. A representative of the design team on this project provided the following comments to contextualise this, explaining that the council wishes to encourage a greater diversification of uses within the public realm to attract and support new residential, office and evening economy uses into the city centre. We want to connect and show off the city’s best assets.
The city wants to regenerate the public realm such that it’s built to last, reducing maintenance costs and generating revenue. The rationale for integrating SUDs was crucial:
We want to embed SUDs into the public realm wherever possible, but it has to be multifunctional as well as being attractive, supporting wildlife and green infrastructure, and encouraging children’s play. We need to find a way of channelling rain water from existing and new development roof tops, plus surface water run-off from hard surfaces in the associated catchments to our new SUDs system to maximise its potential.
The design team in Plymouth emphasised the following points
The SUDs designs need to be simple and easy to maintain so that the city can understand, afford and maintain those new assets.
It is clear that communication and simplicity of approach, design and long term maintenance must work in tandem to ensure the more widespread adoption of the engineered SUDs tree pit solution. Our CEO Dean Bowie has been to visit the site as part of the technical and design support element of the project partnership and monitoring of the implementation process will provide us with vital information for product development and our future collaborations with public sector and private sector partners. A detailed case study will follow shortly!
Plymouth City Council are currently undertaking one of the UK’s most impressive regeneration schemes. Better Places – a £27 million project will provide more walkable streets, better cycling routes and more welcoming public places – making Plymouth a safer more sociable place to live and visit.
Following on from the success of the 1st event in Mechelen, Belgium in 2017, the second WRC (Water Resilient Cities) event focuses on the added benefits of SUDS and how they can be realised through integrated design to be held in Condette, France.
The event not only meeting drainage needs, delivering benefits for amenity, biodiversity, air and water quality, and many more.