Increasing demand for surface water strategies leads to expansion at Mid Wales architects

Residential development designed by Hughes Architects

Increased flooding throughout Wales and the likelihood of more in the future due to climate change has led a Mid Wales architects’ practice to expand its team into surface water drainage surveying and strategies.

A combination of increased statutory requirements for surface water management in new property developments in Wales and the rise in flood risk generally has prompted Powys and Ceredigion-based Hughes Architects to set up a SuDs (Sustainable Drainage Systems) Surveying and Management Service.

“Flooding has become a major issue throughout Wales and the rest of the UK due to climate change and surface water has been a significant contributory factor in localised flooding problems,” said Doug Hughes, Principal Architect and Managing Director at Hughes Architects.

Surface water strategies

“Surface water systems are important elements in the design of any construction project, and we as architects place a lot of emphasis on this to optimise surface water drainage systems and minimise any associated flood risk on developments we’re involved in.

In January 2019 the Welsh Government updated its Flood and Water Management Act 2010 by including a requirement for all new property developments over a certain size to include a SuDs strategy within the planning process.

Mr Hughes added: “However, the increased demand means it’s become increasingly difficult to obtain such drainage survey and strategy work and so we decided the best option was to expand into this area.

Speeding up planning application decisions

“We’ll be providing the service in-house for architectural design work and planning applications to speed up the process for our clients and offering it to other architects, developers and planning consultants.”

Under the regulations in Wales, all new developments of more than one dwelling or where a construction area is 100sq metres or more will require SuDs.

Developers can include a SuDs application separately or as part of a planning application to an approving body, such as a local authority or national park.

The survey and strategy work reduces the potential for hold-ups in the planning application process as all detailed work will have been undertaken and consultation will have been held with regulatory authorities such as Natural Resources Wales.

Increase the chance of successful planning approval

“While it’s an added layer of work, it can actually improve the chance of a successful planning application in the first instance. That can save weeks and months in many cases which is crucial in the timeline of a property development from start to finish.”

Hughes Architects, which has offices in Newtown, Welshpool and Aberystwyth, works with private clients, local authorities, housing associations, and developers throughout Wales, Shropshire and the Borders.

Architect's drawing plans