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Urban Design Compendium

Case Study 032 - Designing a SUDS scheme

032 - Upton, Northampton

Dealing effectively with water was a key priority for the urban extension at Upton following the floods in Northampton in 1998. English Partnerships (now part of the Homes and Communities Agency) recognised the importance of implementing a SUDS scheme early in the design process to control surface water runoff at source. The strategy was to limit and control surface water runoff through:

  • Water butts, green roofs and permeable paving within courtyards, with restricted discharge into the public surface water drainage system
  • A pipe and swale system that provide attenuation and transfer of surface water through the system
  • Linked storage ponds constructed at the end of the system, around playing fields, prior to controlled discharge

The site’s relatively steep gradient (approximately 1:30) presented a challenge in terms of creation and utilisation of storage volume. Where possible, swales were aligned parallel to contour lines to maximise storage and surface area for infiltration. Where this was not possible, they were aligned to follow the slope and weirs were designed at intervals to retain the surface water, increase storage volume and also enable easy maintenance. The drainage schemes have enhanced the high quality open green spaces provided with the swale and pond network providing green fingers extending from the country park into the public realm, enhancing the local biodiversity.

Health and safety has been a prioritisation, with early and continuous involvement of the Planning Supervisor during the design process. A management strategy of improving public awareness and understanding of the risks of surface water within the public realm has been implemented, rather than erecting impenetrable barriers across the site.

 Other Information

  • Location: Northampton
  • Project Team: English Partnerships, Princes Foundation, West Northamptonshire Development corporation, Northampton Borough Council; Masterplanner - EDAW, Alan Baxter, PellFrischmann, Quartet; Architect - Quartet
  • Contact:


UDC2 Section - Integrated Design

The biodiversity and the public realm at Upton have been enhanced through the use of a series of ponds and swales that extend green space from the countryside into development.

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