Urbanisation, population increase and the impact of climate change have exposed cities and towns to major risks of urban flooding and watercourse pollution.  

Along with social and economic impacts, these contribute to biodiversity loss. Mansfield, in central England, is addressing this by placing nature-based solutions known as SuDS (sustainable drainage systems or blue green infrastructure) across the town.

Arup was appointed to help design and implement an urban flood resilience scheme based on biodiversity interventions instead of traditional systems, turning the entire town into a sponge. With our urban design expertise and our digital tool Terrain, we assessed the whole town to create a site-specific suite of options to combat urban flooding while increasing biodiversity.  

The Mansfield SuDS plan sites thousands of nature-based solutions such as rain gardens, bioswales and basins across the town, capturing up to 58,000m3 of surface water. Not only do these reduce flood risk, they work to transform streets with green spaces, benefit wildlife and greatly increase biodiversity.

Designing the largest flood resilience scheme in the UK

Providing multidisciplinary services such as landscape architecture, water and civil engineering design and leveraging our digital skills, our teams worked closely with Severn Trent from planning through to delivery. As the largest sustainable drainage project in the country, the scheme demonstrates that designing nature-based flood resilience schemes at a town-scale is possible, and that this can also be done at pace. Accelerating the transition to a more resilient world, our digital innovation and technology expertise were key to make this happen.

Using digital tools to create flood resilience

We used Terrain, one of our digital tools, to identify Mansfield's neighbourhood structure and typologies, and applied our urban design expertise to recommend the most suitable interventions and their benefits. A bespoke digital application allowed Severn Trent to create a strategy to deliver the scheme across the whole town. These data-driven tools have been essential to overcome the limits of traditional methods, which cannot assess large areas such as cities but only smaller spaces.