Author: Jacob Evans

Should London become a 'sponge city'?

Source(s): British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
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  • The Greater London Authority (GLA) identified flash flooding as a major risk to the capital going forward.
  • The Met Office warns that storm events such as one that caused damaging flash flooding in 2021 will be four times more frequent if emissions remain high.
  • The "sponge city" concept used by some Chinese cities has been put forward as a solution and involves using green spaces like parklands and blue spaces like lakes and rivers to absorb rainwater.
  • But implementation in London could be hampered by high costs and a lack of space.


A further review into China's efforts found that a successful sponge city needed significant investment and for it to work along with a collaborative change in mindset.

It found that the barriers to success were "social, institutional and political, rather than technical".

Furthermore, sponge cities have been criticised for being designed to deal with the present, when they should be looking to deal with future changes.

Prof Charlesworth believes this would be an issue in the UK, too, saying: " I don’t think the government - of whatever colour - could demand such a change."

But she admits that simply simply developing more large-scale infrastructure isn't the way forward: "A bigger pipe is not the answer to bigger storms."


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