Integrating innovative SUDS design into the landscape


Sustainable drainage is not a new concept, yet the many benefits of SUDS are still not widely appreciated. Following changes to the planning system in England, all major developments must now give preference to the use of sustainable drainage.

SUDS for new development


Our experience in SUDS dates back to 2003. While working for the Environment Agency, Jonathan Vann reviewed well over 500 drainage systems designed for new developments, advising consultants, architects and engineers on how best to meet the requirements of planning guidance and industry standards for SUDS. Jonathan is also a recognised expert witness on sustainable drainage, having successfully given evidence to planning hearings and public inquiries.

Our ethos

Technical capabilities

We see SUDS as a blend of hydrological science, engineering and landscape design. Effective SUDS systems enhance developments and there are examples where surface water has contributed positively to the environment, raising the quality and the value of development. Unfortunately there are also many examples of poor drainage design which devalues development and creates ongoing maintenance problems. With many years’ experience working for the regulator we know what constitutes good SUDS design! Please contact us if you require outline design of a sustainable drainage scheme to support your planning application.


Hydrology in urban areas is not a 'point-and-click' exercise! The hydraulic analysis of SUDS can also be complex and requires a high level of competency in numerical analysis. Our capabilities include:


Drainage reports for planning applications (either standalone or as part of a Flood Risk Assessment)


Preliminary estimates of storage volumes and discharge rates


Options identification and testing


Hydraulic modelling including 1d networks and 2d overland flow routing for studies of system exceedence


Guidance on integrating SUDS into the street scene and wider landscaping


Strategic appraisal of SUDS options to reduce existing flood risk (retrofitting)


Identifying opportunities for water quality improvement, habitat creation and amenity to add value to a site


Retrofitting SUDS


The retrofitting of SUDS into urban environments can play an important role in alleviating existing surface water flooding issues in our urbanised environment. SUDS nearly always offers a wider range of benefits to the community than traditional drainage systems.


Sustainable drainage design is just as relevant in the rural headwaters of streams which flow into urbanised areas.  Catchment-based approaches to flood risk management and water quality improvements can make a significant difference to water quality and flood risk further downstream.




In many small, urban surface water catchments, SUDS may be the only way way to reduce flood risk whilst also improving downstream water quality. Retrofitting SUDS can also offer opportunities to improve public spaces. Our services include:

Hydrological analysis of urban catchments


Appraisal of strategic options for reducing surface water flood risk through SUDS


Identification of opportunities for linking wider benefits, such as improved public spaces, through creative design.


Guidance on policy level approaches to SUDS and community involvement

adapted from CIRIA C753, 2015

Rural areas

We can provide guidance on sustainable rural land management. Sustainable approaches to  agricultural drainage can reduce the risk of flooding to downstream communities, improve the health of fisheries, reduce the need for watercourse maintenance and reduce the loss of valuable soil.











Urban areas


Riverscape Environmental Consultants Ltd

128 Forest Road, Leicester, LE19 3ET

Registered in England 10310178

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