Littlehampton Rain Garden, an innovative scheme to alleviate flooding, has been celebrated at the CPRE Sussex Countryside Awards 2017.
The project, in Maltravers Road, won a New Sussex Landscapes award for recognising landscape enhancement, increasing biodiversity and design excellence in sustainable construction projects.
Lady Caroline Egremont, chairman of the judges, presented the winners’ plaque to Angela Tester, Danny Surridge and Terry Ellis at an awards ceremony at Petworth House last Wednesday.
Dr Geoffrey Mead, one of the judges, said: “Littlehampton has had recent experience of damaging flooding, not from the sea or from the River Arun, but as downland dipslope runoff.
“Intense building development south of the A27 on the north side of town has created an impervious urban surface preventing excess rainfall to be naturally absorbed. This has created flooding problems in the older part of town.
“The rain garden is a scheme to capture rainwater along busy highways and streets, by creating an attractive and innovative well-drained garden strip, the length of the highway, which absorbs excess flow in an ingenious design.”
Littlehampton Civic Society and Littlehampton Flood Action Group worked closely with Littlehampton Town Council, Arun District Council’s gardens officers and West Sussex County Council to install the first rain garden in the grass verge opposite council offices.
Gary Grant, an independent ecologist with 30 years’ experience, acted as an adviser, funded by Operation Watershed. The garden also received Lottery funding from the three-year Arun and Rother Connections project, lead by the RSPB.
The maintenance is now looked after by the civic society and its volunteers.
Terry Ellis, from the society, said the garden really was a prototype and a true community project.
“So many different people worked on it from children up to adults, from the residents to the councils, local Scouts and the West Downs Neighbourhood Watch Task Force,” he added.
“Even to the extent that when we first opened, it was in July and we then had very hot weather and the firemen from the fire station opposite were helping water it down.
“The people of the town have recognised it as being important. People respect it and it is proved to work.”
Rain gardens slow the flow of water, helping the drainage and reducing the risk of flooding.
South Downs Yarn in Rustington also received a prize, being highly commended in this year’s awards.