4 May 2016

Rain gardens created to address flood risk

Brighton & Hove City Council has piloted a practical solution to address the risk of flooding and improve urban water quality by creating ‘rain gardens’ in two Portslade parks.

Work has recently been completed in Victoria Recreation Ground and Portslade village green (Locks Hill).

The project received grant funding support from the Environment Agency and is part of the Brighton & Lewes Downs UNESCO Biosphere’s mission to connect people and nature as an international demonstration area for sustainable development.

Brighton & Hove is a national ‘Flood Risk Area’, ranked in the top 10 most vulnerable locations country wide.

In July 2014 over 100 properties in Portslade and Hove were flooded following a violent storm.

A study identified these two locations suitable for the creation of the rain gardens and local households and businesses were consulted. Following a positive response work got underway.

Rain gardens are designed to temporarily store storm water run-off before it drains away naturally over time. They can also reduce urban pollutants like oil by filtering them out of storm water prior to it soaking into the chalk aquifer which lies underneath Brighton & Hove and supplies all of the city’s drinking water. They are created by making a shallow hollow which will accommodate excess water after heavy rain which could otherwise overload the street drains.

A further bonus is that native species of wetland plants and chalk wildflowers, such as ragged robin and wild marjoram, have been planted to add to the diversity of the park for wildlife and people.

Kate Rice, Environment Programme Manager at the Environment Agency said: “We’re really happy to be able to support this partnership project which delivers multiple benefits for local residents by reducing surface water flooding, protecting the quality of our drinking water and providing a valuable wildlife and recreational resource”

Councillor Gill Mitchell, Chair of the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee, said:  “These two rain gardens are the first to be created in public parks in the city and will play an important part in helping to build environmental resilience as our climate changes.”

Notes to Editors:

Rain gardens are a type of ‘Sustainable Drainage Scheme’ (SuDS) that uses the natural environment alongside engineered measures to address flood risk and groundwater quality.

For more information see:


The Brighton & Lewes Downs World Biosphere Region was recognised by UNESCO in 2014 as part of the global network of 669 sites that are pioneering a positive future for people and nature; it covers all of the land and inshore sea area between Shoreham and Newhaven and thus brings together towns, downs and the coast.

The Environment Agency is a DEFRA public body that works to protect and improve the environment; this rain gardens project contributes to the local ‘CHAMP’ groundwater quality partnership project.