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Building Water Sensitive Urban Planning. A project sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Facilitated by Liz Sharp Senior Lecturer University of Bradford/Pennine Water Group.

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building water sensitive urban planning

Building Water Sensitive Urban Planning

A project sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Facilitated by Liz Sharp

Senior Lecturer

University of Bradford/Pennine Water Group

For further information see:


Defra IUD pilots

Aire Strategic

Stakeholder package

Mitigation workshop

water sensitive urban planning
A planning process that is sensitive to:

Need to reduce flood risk;

Ecological needs of water ways and surroundings;

Aesthetic benefits of bringing water and people closer together;

Local social and economic need

….use workshop to explore what in practice

Water Sensitive Urban Planning
objectives of workshop
To support mutual learning about water sensitive urban planning, in particular:

What potential to contribute to sustainable urban development?

How supported by legislative framework?

How is framework applied in plans & practice in Bradford and Leeds?

What is needed to further influence current current practices?

Objectives of Workshop
attitudes today
Our aim today is to discover and explore institutional roles & tensions around the governance of water;

We will be respectful to you in terms of seeking to understand your perspective on what you do and why you do it;

We ask that you are likewise respectful of others.

Attitudes today


Fire exits & assembly point

legislative framework for water sensitive urban planning

Legislative Framework for Water Sensitive Urban Planning

A project sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Liz Sharp

Senior Lecturer

University of Bradford/Pennine Water Group

For further information see:

overview of framework
Three main spheres of control:

Rivers and bodies of water


Houses and buildings

What follows is a ‘crude’ analysis – to be improved by you when I’ve finished!

Overview of Framework
rivers and water ways
EU water framework directive sets context for Environment Agency (EA)’s control of water ways

‘Good ecological status’ required by 2015, to be achieved through discharge and abstraction licensing

EA also responsible for flood risk management

Rivers and water ways
rivers and water ways1
Incentive (for investment in WSUP)

WSUP could help improve water quality & reduce flood water quantity;


EA regulate discharge, are consulted about planning & can fund flood defences


Limited time/budget based on a narrow CBA; largely rely on others to take action; can only fund flood defence not flood prevention i.e. WSUP.

Rivers and water ways
“Drains” means pipes, culverts and sewers that convey surface water to treatment works or water courses;

They are variously the responsibility of riparian owners, the local drainage authority and/or the water company;

In UK drains frequently go into combined sewers, adding to water treatment costs.

water company

Could save on future pumping & treatment costs &/or pipe infrastructure if drainage is minimised;


Planning consultee;


Ability to invest limited by regulator OFWAT & shareholder value;

Incentive limited because of shared responsibility with LDA/riparian owners.

Water Company
local drainage authority

Political & community interest in preventing floods in local areas;


Consultee for planning; permissive rights of influence;


Limited money/time & sometimes limited expertise; other political priorities

Local Drainage Authority
riparian owners

(Possibly) prevent risk of damage to their property/neighbours properties




Not aware of responsibilities; hard to work in co-operation with many other riparian owners.

Riparian Owners
buildings and planning
PPS 25 (Dec 2006) puts new responsibilities in relation to floods & surface drainage in the planning process;

Like all planning, tiered process of responsibility – Regional Planning Authority impacts on Local Planning Authority impacts on specific site potential;

Requirements of surface drainage and flooding compete for space with the pressure to develop housing.

Buildings and planning
regional planning authority

Flooding is significant cost to area;


Produce ‘Regional Flood Risk Assessment’ which informs Sustainability Appraisal of Regional Spatial Strategy AND local Strategic Flood Risk Assessments.


Must balance flood risk with development pressure

Regional Planning Authority
local planning authority

Desire to avoid costs of (and potential “blame” for) flooding in their area;


Produce Strategic Flood Risk Assessment & grant planning permission


Limited knowledge of flooding & surface drainage; tight deadlines for planning decisions; fear of appeal.

Local Planning Authority
owner developer

Need to satisfy LPA that a) development is appropriate for location’s flood vulnerability (sequential test) b) that surface water is sustainability drained c) there are plans for exceedence of surface water system.

If development is large or in flood vulnerable zone must produce ‘Flood Risk Assessment’.


Choice of what is implemented and how (within planning permission)


Lack of knowledge/usual way of doing things; desire to maximise value from development.

concluding questions
Is this right…. Have I mis-represented something, or missed out some crucial factors?

This explains systems in theory, but how do they work in practice? (The afternoon!)

What stages are RFRA and SFRAs in Aire valley?

What is/can be done while the latter are still in development?

Is this legislative system enough to implement WSUP?

Concluding questions