ALL ABOUT… Sustainable urban Drainage Systems (SuDS)

As climate change results in more intense rainfall, and as we see more development and urban sprawl encroaching on green space, the recurrence of extreme flooding events is likely to increase.

In simple terms, flooding happens when large amounts of surface water collect in one place. If that water is unable to drain away faster than it collects, the water level rises and floods occur. Many things will cause ineffective drainage, from an abundance of hard impermeable surfaces like concrete, seen in urban areas, to compacted soil caused by animal grazing in rural parts of the country.

The River Don in South Yorkshire, after a month’s worth of rain fell in a 24-hour deluge in 2019.


Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) are designed to manage the drainage of surface water by mimicking natural catchments.

SuDS can effectively slow down the speed and flow of water, and reduce the water quantities through storage, infiltration, evaporation, or transpiration, before it enters the watercourse, in turn reducing the likelihood of devasting flooding. 


Alongside reducing flood risks, SuDS are also effective at:

  • Improving water quality
  • Managing water resources
  • Increasing biodiversity
  • Improving levels of green infrastructure
  • Providing opportunities for community engagement and education
  • Enhancing a local area


Green Community Hubs have a real opportunity to play a role in flood prevention and a fantastic example of SuDS in action is at our pilot Green Hub, West Gorton Community Park.

Known locally as the ‘sponge park’, it has an interconnected series of swales, rain gardens, and other nature-based solutions, all designed to combat the effects of climate change and reduce stormwater flooding in Manchester.

Paths and surfaces are made from permeable paving to allow rainwater to percolate through the ground, infiltration ponds soak up water, and sunken rain gardens and v-shaped channels allow water to be absorbed by soil and vegetation and used to water the trees and plants. 

But, you don’t always need a budget-busting brand-new park to build effective SuDs. Over at Grozone, in Northwich, Groundwork’s Pete Attwood has led the creation of sedum roofs on two of the community garden’s tool stores.

Along with effectively soaking up rainfall from the roofs, the sedum has also created new habitat for pollinators and an engagement and learning opportunity for others.

Pete has delivered a further range of other cost-effective SuDS for different communities in the local area. This includes the recent creation of an excavated rain garden at Castle Community Centre, and a series of innovative SuDS planter boxes designed, built, and installed at Victoria Road Primary School.


With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Pete has become an expert hand on effective SuDS and he’ll be running a special ‘Introduction to SuDS’ event for us on 16th June.

The session starts at 10am at Grozone and tours a number of local sites where you can see examples of SuDS in action. The perfect inspiration for you to set up your own SuDS!

Tickets are free to anyone who wishes to join, and can be booked online below.

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