Report calls for permeable paving

A new report from the Committee on Climate Change highlights the need for wider use of permeable paving and sustainable drainage to help fight flooding and pollution.

The Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) is an independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008. Published in July, the CCC’s Adaptation Progress Report to government stresses that increased flood risk is the greatest threat to the UK from climate change. It calls on government to implement the 2010 Flood and Water Management Act – which will effectively make sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) mandatory – without further delay.

But it also points out that: “The National Planning Policy Framework already requires local planning authorities to actively consider SuDS when scrutinising development applications”, although most are still failing to do so. And it demonstrates that planning regulations from 2008 for paving in gardens and around non-domestic premises are not being enforced by planners either. Here, permitted development rights were removed for new or replacement hard surfaces, such as drives and car parks, unless permeable paving solutions are used. Clearly, local planning authorities should now prioritise SuDS and permeable paving in development control.

The Report also advocates that: “the uptake of permeable paving should be encouraged ”. Concrete block permeable paving is a key SuDS technique and uniquely placed to meet a wide range of sustainable drainage and urban design requirements. Sharing the same impressive performance as conventional block paving – including slip and skid resistance, durability and strength – it can support the heaviest loads and trafficking, and is ideal for all hard landscape, shared surfaces and residential streets. At the same time, it can provide completely level, well-drained, firm and slip-resistance ‘accessible’ surfaces without the need for cross-falls, channels, gullies or other interruptions. Rainwater ‘ponding’ is eliminated, reducing the risk of ice forming on the surface and preventing splashing from standing water.

But its real strength is an ability to remove water-borne pollution offering the important – and often missed – opportunity of a gradual supply of treated water that can be exploited for innovative landscape design, harvesting and ecology by imaginative designers. This is a clarion call for architects, master-planners and other designers to take the lead in using concrete block permeable paving and other multi-functional SuDS as an integral part of urban design and place shaping.

This aspect is explored in Interpave’s latest discussion document – ‘SuDS + Permeable Paving Today, Edition 2’ – which is freely available on this site. Here, a wealth of information is available including the ‘Permitted Paving’ guidance on planning rules for areas around existing buildings and the comprehensive ‘Understanding Permeable Paving’.