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Stemming the flow in Hassocks

Stemming the flow in Hassocks

Stemming the flow in Hassocks, East Sussex was the theme of a public talk I gave last week. Whilst there is a focus on urban green infrastructure in major cities, I have been pleased to be involved in a few rural urban projects in West Sussex over the last few years with the ARC project. Hassocks does suffer from bad floods when the brook in the centre of the town rises up over the streets, so it was good to take these ideas to East Sussex.

Rain garden installed as part of the ARC project in Littlehampton
Rain garden installed as part of the ARC project in Littlehampton

 

Stemming the flow – roadside edges

Before the public talk, I had a walk around the village with members of Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust  and the Hassocks, Hurstpierpoint, Keymer and Ditchling Transition group. Both are working together on very interesting projects. These aim to stem the flow in the surrounding countryside. The aim is to slow the local Heron stream when in spate but also improve water quality.

The purpose of the walk was to identify potential areas for urban green infrastructure within the town. Like many villages and towns, just like in cities, there is plenty that could be done. Along our route, we came across many ‘suburban’ strips of green that could just as easily be rain gardens. These could take road run off as in the pictures above and below.

Stemming the flow - street in Finland
Roadside rain garden, Finland

 

Stemming the flow – carparks

We also visited a number of carparks – which were crying out for modifying.

Not stemming the flow - carparks
Grey features in need of rain gardens

 

In the picture above, there is an asphalt ‘ditch’. It is actually in Hurstpierpoint.  This could so easily could be transformed into a vegetated swale. Most of the car parks in Hassocks had areas marked in yellow where cars cannot park. Depaving these areas and greening the spaces would help to take the flow. In one car park in Hassocks, there were kerb stones similar to the picture below except with concrete behind instead of soil and vegetation. They could be like the ones in Portland Oregon where this picture was taken.

Rain gardens in a car park
Edge of a carpark rain garden, Portland Oregon

 

Looking forward: a water sensitive Hassocks

At the end of my talk a local councillor said he was inspired by the image above. “He publicly stated that, despite being very sceptical, he had been inspired to take these ideas forward.” That is a positive output from my talk and I look forward to seeing how this evolves. Generally, when I talk about these issues outside of cities I am a little hesitant. The reaction in Hassocks, however, was very positive. Hassocks does suffer from bad floods when the brook in the centre of the town rises up over the streets.

I did quote an old friend, who used to work for SEPA in Scotland and once said: “One rain garden in Scotland will lead to 10,000.” I was glad to hear later, that a few residents are coming together to get that first garden in. There is probably no need for 10,000 in Hassocks but 1,000 will surely help to stem the flow.

I am looking forward to seeing urban green infrastructure hit the streets of Hassocks in the coming years.

Dusty is a recognised expert on green infrastructure and a inspirational public speaking – if you are interested in engaging him at an event contact here

 

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