Ecobuild was the setting for the launch of a range of Landscape Institute activities under the theme of water.

Sue Illman discussing water-sensitive design with Celeste Morgan of AECOM and Tony Wong of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities
Sue Illman discussing water-sensitive design with Celeste Morgan of AECOM and Tony Wong of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities

The first seminar on this topic was entitled Trees ‘n’ Water, and was chaired by LI president Sue Illman. The session comprised the presentation ‘The urban forest: critical infrastructure for cities of the future’, from Jim Smith, urban forestry advisor at the Forestry Commission, and ‘Introducing new technical guidance: Integrated Soft SuDS in Urban Environments’, from Illman, who was representing the LI and partners RTPI, CIHT and ICE.

Illman also spoke on the afternoon of 6 March, at the conference session ‘Water sensitive urban design’, hosted by Celeste Morgan, director of sustainability at Aecom. This event also included Professor Tony Wong, chief executive officer at the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities. Wong argued that a way to mitigate damage from climate change was to rely on parks and to build more to keep water in the landscape.

Illman also chaired the session ‘Water regulations, planning controls and design strategies’, at which she spoke on the topic of design strategies for effective delivery. Further sessions included landscape architect Peter Wilder discussing how water is shaping our future cities.

In addition to seminars on the topic of water, the LI supported the publication of Water Sensitive Urban Design. This publication approaches the management of water in a more holistic way, considering the  water cycle fully during the urban design and development process. WSUD concepts recognise the many values of water and can bring multiple benefits over and beyond the management for flood risk, by improving water quality and water availability and reducing the effects of climate change. The publication demonstrates how Water Sensitive Urban Design can be embraced in the UK.

These events at Ecobuild herald a major new area of work for the LI in which the organisation devotes resources to focusing on the landscape professional’s approach to designing with water, implementing sustainable urban drainage schemes and arguing the case for a green infrastructure approach to dealing with water. A new ‘splash’ page has been set up on the LI website which highlights the Institute’s approach to this subject. The LI’s recommendations are:

• Full implementation of the Flood and Water Management Act, which would ensure the use of SuDS on all new developments in the UK

• Removal of the ‘un-economic cost’ get-out in the Draft National Standards unless exceptional circumstances exist

• Re-emphasis of the need to consider soft options first, to obtain multi-functional benefits

• Adoption of water sensitive urban design policies in every Local Plan

• Embark on a comprehensive programme of retrofitting SuDS alongside larger water catchment management programmes and flood defence programmes

Find out more about the LI’s work on water

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