About SuDS+

The SuDS+ approach

SuDS+ is a 5-year research and innovation project based in the town of Stanley in North Durham. It focuses on involving local people in solving flooding problems in the area. To do this we are using Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) alongside community visioning and co-design techniques. SuDS aim to replicate natural processes by slowing, storing and reducing the flow of water at times of high rainfall slowly releasing it into the exiting piped drainage. This is the opposite of traditional piped drainage which aims to remove water as quickly as possible into the system and away from properties. In Stanley this traditional method of water removal can be overwhelmed at heavy rainfall causing flooding to land, roads and homes.

Drainage without SuDS

Drainage with SuDS

SuDS+ is about doing things differently and more sustainably. It de-prioritises drainage, instead community needs and aspirations (‘+’) underpin the SuDS design from the outset. The project aims to improve people’s quality of life and the places that they live in. Improvements could relate to housing, employment, education, health, wellbeing, energy, environment, community groups and networks. Through innovation and the help of Stanley the Raindrop, the project is developing and testing a new community-led and co-benefit framework for SuDS.

Research and innovation

The SuDS+ project provides a unique opportunity to explore the following research questions:

  • How can we co-create and build SuDS solutions with local residents and businesses to reduce flooding?
  • How can the community’s vision (‘+’) be integrated into the SuDS design using innovative solutions
  • How can the resulting SuDS+ features be monitored and looked after long-term
  • What additional benefits are gained through a SuDS+ approach?

To answer them we have a team of specialists working in the following areas:

  • Vision setting and opportunity mapping through detailed community engagement and placemaking.
  • Innovation-driven challenges to harness multidisciplinary solutions.
  • Co-design and implementation of SuDS+ interventions.
  • Monitoring and evaluation of SuDS and the ‘+’.
  • Adoption and maintenance of SuDS+ features to ensure long-term benefits.
  • Project communication and output dissemination.

Our partners and funder

Our project partners include ARUP, Durham County Council, Environment Agency, Isle Utilities, Northumbria University, Northumbrian Water, Teesside University, Veridian Logic and Wear Rivers Trust. We are also working with a wide range of community groups, schools and other local organisations.

SuDS+ is part of a wider Defra-funded innovation programme which is enabling 25 local projects across the country to test new ways of working and reduce flood risk. It is anticipated that the evidence generated will inform future projects and investment.

Find out more

Please contact us if you would like to find out more about the SuDS+ approach or would like to collaborate.

The video below was created to introduce SuDS+ to delegates at Flood & Coast 2024.