Steve Durdant-Hollamby, Managing Director Polypipe Civils is BMBI’s Expert for Civils & Green Urbanisation.
Bad weather, the disruptive effect of the election and a longer than normal Christmas shutdown, knocked Q4 activity across the board. Post-election political stability has improved the situation, and there are definite signs of market improvement and increased confidence in Q1 2020. Many delayed projects have started, and orders are up.
Government announcements on major infrastructure investment programmes such as HS2 are helping to drive this wider confidence. The availability of credit insurance for contractors remains an issue, however. The low-margin model that saw the level of insolvencies rise through 2019 is changing but that will depend on the strength and speed of the recovery we are witnessing.
Looking at Green Urbanisation specifically, extreme rainfall continues to put the country’s existing drainage infrastructure under pressure. Urban and suburban flooding is never far from the headlines, along with stories related to climate change. According to the Environment Agency, more than five million homes in England and Wales are at risk of flooding – a point underpinned in December, when the agency issued 79 flood warnings for the South, Midlands, East and Yorkshire, and again in this February’s widespread alerts.
Green Urbanisation is a genuinely new design approach that enhances the resilience and sustainability of urban development. It brings together conventional SuDS and green infrastructure in a single, fully integrated, scalable solution. Adaptable to any size project or catchment, Green Urbanisation allows the introduction of green assets into any landscaped area, providing optimum growing conditions through an extended sustainable drainage network.
This approach has been developed to mitigate the impact of climate change and help developers and architects realise urban landscapes that are healthy, biodiverse and attractive for rapidly expanding populations. Green Urbanisation solutions will help meet the requirements of Environmental Net Gain – an approach the government is considering making mandatory. Under this, developers would need to deliver new housing or commercial projects that enhance the pre-development habitat for wildlife.
The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission’s final report, published this February, reinforces the Green Urbanisation approach and is set to be a key influencer in the shaping of future planning and environmental legislation.