Organisers of the Operation Watershed Active Community Fund are hoping Littlehampton Rain Garden’s success will encourage similar initiatives to apply for funding.
The garden, developed by Littlehampton Civic Society, was supported with Lottery and county council funding, and has scooped the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s Sussex Countryside Award for New Sussex Landscapes.
The feature is opposite Arun Civic Centre in Maltravers Road. It captures rainwater along busy roads via an attractive and well-drained garden strip, the length of the highway, and absorbs excess water flow in an ingenious design.
Through Operation Watershed, the county council is now working with a number of community groups to develop Rain Gardens in key areas, including Hassocks, Worthing, Chichester City and within the Manhood Peninsula.
Bob Lanzer, county council Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said: “I am delighted to hear that the Littlehampton project has received this recognition as it is an important addition to the care of our environment.
“Operation Watershed Active Community Fund is working hard with a number of groups across West Sussex to develop similar Rain Gardens. I hope that this project will inspire other local communities to develop similar schemes to manage water and enhance the public space in their own villages and towns.”
Terry Ellis, from Littlehampton Civic Society, said the Rain Garden was a true community project, so it was fantastic that it had received recognition.
“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 said.
Volunteers from Littlehampton Civic Society, the Arc Project, West Downs Neighbourhood Force and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service joined pupils from Littlehampton Academy to plant the garden. It is maintained by volunteers from the Civic Society.
Jane Reeve, FLOW Project Manager, Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group, said: “I am a fan of Rain Gardens as they are able to hold water back during high rainfall events, and store it for slow release or use later. Any method of storing water to prevent flooding is of benefit to wildlife and people as persistent heavy rainfall can create pollution events, displace people and wildlife from habitats and homes, and cause long-term environmental problems.
“Even if a rain garden can only store a small percentage of the water run-off, it will still be of benefit, as every bit of capacity helps.”
Operation Watershed, a shortlisted finalist in the Community Involvement 2018 Local Government Chronicle Awards, is keen to hear from any community groups interested in developing a Rain Garden in their area. To email, please click here
Rain Gardens are small-scale features that capture rainwater run-off from buildings, pavements and other hard surfaces. They temporarily store, clean and slowly release that water back into the soil or drainage system, helping communities to deal more effectively with heavy rainfall.
Community groups, volunteer groups and town and parish councils within West Sussex can apply for funding for projects they can deliver for themselves. The criteria we use to assess applications are:
• How it addresses recognised flood issues
• If it has strong community support
• That it demonstrates value for money
• How it will realise benefits for the community.
All applications need support from the local county councillor. Communities, in particular, are encouraged to come together and develop the network of local action groups. More information about Operation Watershed can be found at: please click here