South East Rivers Trust (& the Wandle Trust)

SuDS not floods – pass it on!


The South East Rivers Trust have been working with Sutton Council to deliver a SuDS in Schools project in Carshalton. Delivering a SuDS project has been a new and valuable experience for the Trust.   For detailed reports and guidance on the work that SERT carried out, click here

Current relevance

Timing could not have been better for this SuDS project.  Along with all the extreme weather events around the world that have been in the news, closer to home flash flooding has hit the headlines.  Not only does this demonstrate the urgent need to address surface water flooding but it has brought the issue to the public’s attention.  It is the perfect chance to capitalise on the growing awareness of climate change and interest in environmental issues to get SuDS on the public agenda.

For more information on SuDS (sustainable drainage systems), click here.

Project objectives

For many years, pressure on the drainage network has been increasing.  More homes, more roads, fewer gardens, more parking spaces all result in more runoff entering the drainage network which was not built for these large volumes of rainwater. While a SuDS in schools project can help by adding features to intercept runoff before it enters the drains, it can also educate pupils and the public to address what is happening more widely in the community.

These have been our aims with the SuDS in Sutton’s Schools project – to add features to capture runoff and to spread the SuDS not floods message. The three year project has enabled us to test a SuDS planter design, adapting it to various conditions and school needs and to trial a range of education and engagement activities. 

Stakeholder engagement

It  may seem obvious that greening a grey playground with SuDS features such as planters and rain gardens provides multiple benefits – wildlife, aesthetic, amenity benefits as well as reduced flood risk.  In reality, schools are very busy sites and adding SuDS could cause a barrier to site use.   Stakeholder engagement was very much part of the design process.  Staff meetings, pupil input sessions and public engagement stalls all played a part. While Sutton Council took on the delivery of the larger features, SERT took on some smaller features, installing ten planters across four sites.

Design and installation

Our planter design aimed to maximise storage potential as well as cater to the needs of the individual schools. A geocellular storage layer was trialed and a range of connections and pouring methods were designed for different site conditions. Added features such as wildlife habitats, sensory features or benches were included. The end result was a range of attractive planters that provide approximately 10.5mof storage. 

Education and public engagement

A  wide variety of public engagement and education activities took place.  A school provides the ideal opportunity to educate the next generation.   Over the course of the project, a solid series of SuDS introductory educational activities was developed for primary schools. Extra activities were also trialled including a Lego workshop, a SuDS animation project and a SuDS Champions programme.  For the public, we attended a range of events to promote SuDS and held two SuDS community workshops. 

Project legacy

It has been an important aspect of the project to build on what has previously been done by other SuDS projects and to provide a platform for further development. To this aim, a series of reports have been written that outline the measures we have taken and the methods we have used including:

They are detailed and provide useful information for future SuDS projects.  In addition to these resports, we are happy to share any expertise gained so get in touch if you have any questions or require more information. Contact us through our main email address: info@southeastriverstrust.org 

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