SuDS & sponge cities: A comparative analysis of the implementation of pluvial flood management in the UK and China

Craig Lashford, Matteo Rubinato, Yanpeng Cai, Jingming Hou, Soroush Abolfathi, Stephen Coupe, Susanne Charlesworth, Simon Tait

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    76 Citations (Scopus)
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    In recent decades, rapid urbanization has resulted in a growing urban population, transformed into regions of exceptional socio-economic value. By removing vegetation and soil, grading the land surface and saturating soil air content, urban developments are more likely to be flooded, which will be further exacerbated by an anticipated increase in the number of intense rainfall events, due to climate change. To date, data collected show that urban pluvial flood events are on the rise for both the UK and China. This paper presents a critical review of existing sustainable approaches to urban flood management, by comparing UK practice with that in China and critically assessing whether lessons can be learnt from the Sponge City initiative. The authors have identified a strategic research plan to ensure that the sponge city initiative can successfully respond to extreme climatic events and tackle pluvial flooding. Hence, this review suggests that future research should focus on (1) the development of a more localized rainfall model for the Chinese climate; (2) the role of retrofit SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems) in challenging water environments; (3) the development of a robust SuDS selection tool, ensuring that the most effective devices are installed, based on local factors; and (4) dissemination of current information, and increased understanding of maintenance and whole life-costing, alongside monitoring the success of sponge cities to increase the confidence of decision makers (5) the community engagement and education about sponge cities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number213
    Number of pages14
    JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2019

    Bibliographical note

    © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access
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    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    • Flood management
    • Future opportunities
    • Lessons to be learnt
    • Sponge cities
    • Sustainable Drainage Systems
    • Urban flooding

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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