Reducing flood risk has been critical in making the mammoth Nine Elms scheme in London an “exemplar” for modern development, a key figure has claimed.
Mark Hunter, planning manager at Wandsworth Council, said the huge Thames-side project would showcase the best modern thinking on preparing for climate change.
Flooding has been in the national spotlight recently after heavy rain and tidal surges devastated homes, businesses and infrastructure in several parts of the UK earlier this year.
Nine Elms will sit in a formerly industrial are that risks flooding in a once-every-hundred-years weather event.
While managing risk from the river has been left in the hands of the Environment Agency and its Thames Barrier, the local authorities have ensured storm water poses minimal threat.
Hunter told NCE: “We engaged with the Environment Agency very early on with this scheme.
“They were concerned about ground floor residential properties so we don’t have any ground floor flats – only duplexes where people can escape upstairs.
“We also made developers realise [flood risk] was a significant problem. They have developed facilities to capture storm water.”
Such measures include a large pond outside the US Embassy; green and brown roofs on many buildings; attenuation tanks under paving; and strategically placed water features.
“We want people to come and study [Nine Elms] as an exemplar of how development can be highly sustainable,” said Hunter.
More than £1bn is set to be spend on infrastructure alone for the scheme to add 30,000 residents to an area roughly from Battersea Power Station to Vauxhall Station.
“This scheme is a great opportunity for civil engineers,” said Hunter. “We want super-fast broadband; to extend the Northern Line; we have district heating.
“Being a town planner is normally boring but this is very exciting.”
Hunter spoke to NCE at an annual open day for residents to discuss the latest plans for Nine Elms.