A UK-first Centre for Property Flood Resilience Engagement and Demonstration
Land and Property Manager, Yorkshire Water
It’s no coincidence that Yorkshire Water have chosen to make such a strategic investment of time, resources, equipment and cash to bring together this exciting new facility in the location we have.
Kingston-Upon Hull presents us with the ‘perfect storm’ in flooding terms, with the second highest population at risk of catastrophic flooding in the country, low levels of social mobility and economic resilience alongside one of Europe’s oldest sewer networks and some pretty unique geography.
Traditional engineering has and will always have its place in our joint efforts to manage this risk of flooding and keep people, homes and communities safe, but with escalating climate change, we as a country will soon reach the limits of what flood engineering can do.
This is where Living with Water (www.LivingWithWater.co.uk) comes in, recognising that when we do engineer solutions, we need to collaboratively plan and engineer cities together with civic infrastructure, joint-responsibility and more natural, green solutions. This approach still can’t achieve total resilience, and this is where the second facet of Living with Water comes into its greatest effect… people!
People, you and me, whole streets, neighbourhoods, cities and regions need to come together to each play our small part, cumulatively small actions can lead to big resilience, and this is highlighted no better than in the case of Property Flood Resilience (PFR).
We need to engage, meaningfully, with people, homeowners and communities to help create a better awareness of the risk, but more importantly an understanding of the small, cost-effective things we can all do to make our homes and businesses a little more resilient should the worst happen.
This is the part where we get to talking about the Community Hub. In creating the new facility, we have achieved innovation by partnering with other key organisations, creativity by linking public/charitable-sector resources with private sector knowledge and experience, and we have created a model for long-term sustainability through collaboration.
The community Hub, having been collaboratively developed alongside and within Wilberforce College, Hull brings together the Living with Water partners alongside UK industry PFR and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) specialists including www.m3FloodTec.com and www.greenblue.com to deliver a flexible collaboration, meeting and information space for communities and industry SME’s alike. This project accessed partnership funds alongside support from the DEFRA Pathfinder grant (www.YorkshireFloodResilience.co.uk) and will be sustainably maintained for years to come through the ongoing partnership and operational support of the College.
Within the Community Hub we have undertaken extensive construction and refurbishment works to create a modern, accessible and engaging range of flexible spaces including a large function / events room, a dedicated boardroom meeting space, a collaborative multi-agency workspace, new upgraded WC facilities and the region’s first dedicated Yorkshire Water ‘Learning Lab’, a wet-lab teaching space within which school-age children will be able to enjoy hands-on collaborative learning and practical demonstration tasks centred around the water cycle, flooding and property resilience.
Although the spaces are designed to offer flexibility and multi-use, they will also display useful and informative PFR-related information. We have several manufacturers have invested in bespoke PFR product demonstration models for permanent display in the centre as well as in-the-ground examples of how installed products look (and more importantly, how they don’t look!). The walls and corridors will also be adorned with imagery, information and actual PFR products to allow people to touch, feel and familiarise themselves with these often simple, easy to install measures.
Most importantly, all collaborators to the Community Hub have agreed a set of key principles which includes displaying clear, simple to understand product purchase, suitability and installation information alongside clear and transparent costs to purchase and install them.
Together these elements create a very exciting UK first space seeking to engage directly with the consciousness of you and me, communities and small-business, empowering early pro-active resilience and when reviewed, hopefully providing a model for engagement replicable across the UK.
Press & Public Launch: Summer 2021 (pending CV19)