Water-sensitive urban design (WSUD) is a concept that is gaining support as a means to manage urban water systems in an integrated way through the better positioning of the topic of water in urban planning and design processes. Water-sensitive urban design is emerging in the UK and this paper sets the scene and identifies the opportunities and constraints from a UK perspective. Recent developments in integrated water management, ecosystem services and multifunctional land use provide new opportunities for ‘getting more for less’. These can range from seeing all forms of water as a resource, exploiting opportunities to contribute to the green and blue infrastructure agendas, resilience to climate and other changes. This paper draws on international experience as to how water-sensitive urban design can deliver opportunities; mitigate the urban development challenges; implement and support institutional, regulatory and practical opportunities and demonstrate the benefits of taking a water-sensitive urban design approach in the UK. The key requirements for delivery are highlighted and a proposed vision for water-sensitive urban design in the UK outlined.


Ashley, R., Lundy, L., Ward, S., Shaffer, P., Walker, A. L,. Morgan, C., Saul, A., Wong, T. and Moore, S. (2013). Water-sensitive urban design: opportunities for the UK. In: Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Municipal Engineer, 166(2), pp. 65-76. Copyright © 2013  ICE Publishing.

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Last updated: 4th Apr 2017