Developers in the South East are facing many challenges in 2019. Government housebuilding targets, uncertainty about the impact of Brexit and construction skills shortages are all putting the pressure on developers. In addition, available land for development is limited and potential sites are increasingly likely to have flood or contamination risks. It has never been more important for civil engineers to solve structural issues in a cost-effective way.
As civil engineers, RWA works with developers to support structural and design considerations that are appropriate to the site. Before developers commit to purchasing land, our experienced team can undertake detailed site investigations.
Within the report of our site investigations, we interpret the data, apply ingenuity and make recommendations on hard and soft engineering solutions. With awareness of the tight margins that developers are working within, our emphasis is on value engineering; that is solutions that maximise functionality in the most cost-effective way.
Based in Buckinghamshire, RWA has worked with Wycombe District Council to address sustainable urban drainage. Our brief was to assess and provide viable civil engineering solutions to overcome flood risks. Our team assessed the ground conditions at a number of sites in South Buckinghamshire to provide information on flood risk and flood prevention measures in accordance with SuDS (Surface Drainage Systems).
Specific sites in Buckinghamshire have already been ruled out as potential development sites, due to the probability of flooding being 1% or more. Medium and low-risk sites can be considered for house building. This is dependent on the developer providing evidence compliance of with, resilient building design and measures to positively reduce the risk of flooding in the District.
As civil engineering consultants, we see the value of consideration SuDS as part of pre-application discussions. There is no doubt that the future development of our towns and cities will increase pressure on potable water supplies. Our focus is on how to integrate sustainable and safe water management techniques into the structural development of sites, in order to mitigate flood risk.
Hard and Soft Engineering Solutions
For years, developers have defaulted to hard engineering solutions. Physical barriers, tanks, diversion spillways and levees offer protection to properties at risk of flooding. With regular maintenance, these do offer a long-term solution.
The issue for developers is that hard engineering can be costly to construct and maintain. There is also the issue that hard engineering can redirect the problem downstream, rather than providing a sustainable solution. With value engineering and CSR in mind, this is not always the best means of complying with local authority regulations.
As civil engineering consultants, we favour soft engineering solutions to flooding on sites when they are viable. Redirecting watercourses, riverbank restoration, tree planting and the use of permeable surfaces are just a few of the options that can be both financially and environmentally favourable.
The reality is that nature provides natural flood management, but decades of building development, agricultural production and hard surfacing have disrupted these systems. Civil engineering projects across the UK, including the Stroud Valley in Gloucestershire and the Sussex Flow Initiative, have evidenced that soft engineering solutions are highly effective in flood prevention. They also support the restoration of natural habitats and improve the quality of life of residents. In short, it can be a cost-effective and sustainable means of urban drainage.
Civil Engineers Company for Flood Risk Site Investigations
In recent years, the UK has experienced record levels of flooding. In response, the Government’s Environmental Plan focuses on natural flood management and flood protection as a key requirement of house building and site development.
Our development site investigations and assessment of ground conditions help councils, developers and housebuilders to decide on which sites are workable. From there, our civil engineers can support planning applications. We advise on and provide evidence of practical and affordable options that are compliant with SuDS and local authority regulations.
If you would like an initial discussion with our civil engineer consultants about a site or project in Buckinghamshire, London, and the South East, please contact RWA on 01296 624924.