- Posted by: Canterbury Labour
- Category: Latest News
Last Saturday Southern Water ran a market place event for local residents in Whitstable. The event was organised to showcase there plans for sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS).
SUDS are a means by which storm rain water is held into the catchment rather than immediately entering, and then, overwhelming our sewage system. SUDS aim to ‘slow the flow’ of water into the drainage system ensuring that the capacity of the system isn’t breached and overflows into the sea don’t need to be used.
The SUDS discussed included:
- Rain gardens: planters which are fed by downpipes on a roof
- Engineered tree pits: roadside tree pits which are often water by redirecting surface water on carriageways
- Smart water butts: water butts which fill from downpipes and slowly release the water
- Swales and basins: reprofiled ground which holds rain in small natural ponds
- Green walls and roofs
- Permeable paving
Southern Water have initially identified 18 sites for interventions of which the first is Cornwallis Circle. At the meeting they presented three designs for how they could add trees, wildmeadow planting and swales to the perimeter of the parkland. This area has been picked as it is the catchment and there is an already existing pipeline which runs from the French Drain on Cornwallis Circle out to sea near The Neptune. They want to direct stormwater in this area directly down this pipe (which is currently blocked) rather than into the sewage network via the roadside drains on Nelson Road.
Other plans discussed included a green wall at Whitstable Library, depaving the Salt Marsh Lane Car Park and sales behind Whitstable Health Centre and on Westmeads Recreation Ground (drainage in this area has long been a problem). Sites for engineered tree pits have been identified on Cromwell Road, Station Road and Bexley Street. Raingardens are being explored at Stocks on Cromwell Road, St Alphege Infant School and on Sydenham Street, Woodlawn Street, Albert Street and Island Wall. Many of these sites were identified by Labour in its Rewilding Plan last year and so we are glad to see them taken forward.
Labour councillors have actively been involved in identifying sites but the obvious question here is when is everything happening and how will local people be consulted? As many of these plans relate to highways, Groundworks (a contractor of Southern Water) indicated that they detailed plans which they are ready to submit but it was unclear as to whether the County Council had a statutory duty to publicise and gather the opinion of local people.
There was no detail on the timescale for smart water butts which I believe are initially going to be offered to residents in the immediately locality of the sewage overflow near Tankerton Circus to relieve pressure here.
We will be pushing Southern Water to draw up clearer plans and circulate them amongst residents for comments. We need a system by which these plans are welcomed by local residents and not sprung on them. We are actively working with them to arrange a meeting with Cornwallis Circle residents as this work will likely co-inside with the redevelopment of the playground planned for March.
Overall the meeting was positive but there is a long way to go. Communication seems key in the next couple of months and that isn’t a strength in my experience of Southern Water to date.