Guest Blog: Housing push must come with a surge in sustainable drainage

4th Jan 2024

There’s no doubt that the UK needs more housing, but plans to actually build it throw up many questions of their own. One of these is how our drainage infrastructure will support an increase in homes under the pressure of a changing climate with more frequent and intense rainfall.

Ambient Drone Shot

Here, Martin Lambley, Product Manager for Urban Climate Resilience at Wavin explains why sustainable drainage isn’t just crucial to improving the resilience of housing developments, but also why it represents a serious value proposition for housebuilders.

Both the government and the opposition have signaled their commitment to building hundreds of thousands more homes and are willing to support developers in order to hit these targets. But these new homes will be built at a time of increasingly volatile weather conditions caused by the climate crisis, and there are many places where the drainage infrastructure is already struggling to cope.

This is where sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) can continue to help by managing stormwater locally and encouraging infiltration and attenuation, rather than just prioritising immediate removal. But it goes beyond simply preventing flooding – SuDS offer an opportunity to protect new developments and add value for buyers.

Breaking the cycle with SuDS

The UK relies on drainage systems designed to get water ‘out of town’ as soon as possible, but this get-rid-quick method can quickly overwhelm systems in heavy rainfall and hinder our ability to draw on stormwater as a resource during periods of drought. By contrast, SuDS can closely mirror the natural water cycle, storing water and releasing it back into the environment at a controlled rate.

SuDS come in all shapes and sizes, and the best approach is one that combines both natural solutions. such as ponds, soakaways and swales, with powerful artificial ones like attenuation tanks. Schedule 3 of the Environment Act is set to require all plans for new developments to include SuDS, meaning developers will have to start getting to grips with the solutions on offer now, before legislation comes into force in 2024.

SuDS represent an opportunity to add value to new projects. Recent research from Wavin found that flood resilience, green space, and insurance premiums, all important benefits of SuDS, are important for house buyers. However, 72% had never heard of sustainable drainage, meaning developers that understand SuDS will be able to offer benefits for which new buyers are willing to pay a premium.

City smart

As sustainable drainage moves from optional to must-have on new developments, manufacturers are working to ensure they’re not a headache when it comes to installation, particularly in the urban environments that will be the focus of much of the government’s housing push.

Below ground attenuation tanks are installed at an early stage in most projects, putting extra emphasis on quick and easy installation so as not to hold up future work on the project. The newest tanks, such as the AquaCell NG from Wavin, are designed with both hassle-free installation and tight urban worksites in mind. Modular design and push-fit functionality mean the tank can be assembled by one person and without the need for specific tools. Likewise, a new stackable design allows the tank to be delivered and stored in smaller spaces, keeping worksites tidier and deliveries to a minimum; this is a gamechanger for urban projects where space is at a premium.

With the climate change a real consideration in today’s society, it’s hard to overstate the role of sustainable drainage in futureproofing new and existing housing, and with legislation likely to force the issue, developers should start thinking about SuDS now.

Find out more today about Wavin’s solutions through your Keyline branch team. Click here to find your nearest Keyline branch.