Joined-up and coherent thinking is needed if council sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) approving bodies are to do the job the Government expects, leading academic Nigel Dunnett has said.
As professionals wait to see if the Government will hit its deadline for requiring each local authority to set up a SuDS approving body by April 2014 - it will need to give councils six months' notice - Professor Dunnett told Horticulture Week there was a danger the UK would rely too heavily on engineering solutions, unlike successful SuDS examples in north America or Germany, which are often decided at a mayoral level.
"There is a real need for coherent and joined-up thinking if large-scale, connected, SuDs schemes are to be implemented effectively," he said.
"The horticultural and design potential is huge. An understanding of soils and plants is at the core of the successful implementation of SuDS. Horticulturists, ecologists and landscape architects should be a fundamental part of design and implementation schemes."
Landscape Institute president Sue Illman, who is a SuDS expert, said she would like to see a landscape architect in each approving body.
"It's down to us to make the best of the opportunity - you've got to upscale and be able to grasp the opportunities that are there. I think local authorities are raring to go," she said.
"Councils such as Oxfordshire, Kent, Essex and Hertfordshire have been at the forefront of pushing things forward. Some are a bit behind and there's going to be a lot of busy people in the next few months."
Central to design
Landscape architect Carolyn Place of Anthony Stiff Associates is working on a project for a private developer in which SuDS are central to the design. "The site is designed around drainage; it's the way things are going," she said.