A Bradford Council officer has won a national flooding design award in recognition of her commitment to creating a more sustainable, climate-ready district.
Saira Ali, Team Leader in Bradford Council’s Landscape, Design and Conservation Team, received a Rising Star of the SuDS World award at a virtual ceremony last week, run by susdrain – the independent and authoritative platform for those involved in delivering sustainable drainage.
SuDs are Sustainable Drainage Systems that aim to slow down the rate at which stormwater enters the piped drainage network and prevent flooding in urban areas. They are built in urban areas to manage rainfall where there is no natural way for flood water to be absorbed or to drain off. They can take the form of modelling land to divert water flow, creating ponds, wetlands or by using permeable paving, the installation of rain gardens, street trees and other nature-based solutions.
SuDS mimic nature and typically manage rainfall close to where it falls. SuDS can be designed to transport (convey) surface water, slow runoff down (attenuate) before it enters watercourses, they provide areas to store water in natural contours and can be used to allow water to soak (infiltrate) into the ground or evaporated from surface water and lost or transpired from vegetation, known as evapotranspiration.
Ms Ali has promoted the benefits of SuDS in several schemes across the Bradford district and was the first-ever recipient of the new Rising Star award category for going the extra mile to deliver and encourage the uptake of SuDS.
She said: “I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me and those who have helped me in all the projects we work on. I really have the privilege of working with some amazingly talented people, my team, our partners and our community who push us to be more ambitious, innovative and helped us to deliver some good work in Bradford”.
Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This is fantastic news, very well deserved and I am thrilled for Saira. Saira is making a vital contribution to building a cleaner, more sustainable district which will be more resilient to climate change. I hope Saira’s success will inspire others.”
Ms Ali has applied SuDS to several Council schemes, including an ongoing Life CRITICAL project at Horton Park, part of the EU Life Programme supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects, and North Street Keighley SuDS Scheme which will aid drainage and encourage biodiversity. Ms Ali gives special attention to the health and well-being benefits of SUDS using the international URBACT Healthy Cities project.
The LIFE CRITICAL project adapts older city neighbourhoods so that they are equipped for the effects of climate change. It achieves this with natural landscape design and getting the local community involved in monitoring the changes to temperature, air quality, wildlife, and plants.
The Council’s Landscape, Design and Conservation Team works in partnership with a team from Dordrecht in the Netherlands who designed Wielwijk Park, which, like Horton Park, is an urban park and neighbourhood.
As part of the project, local schools and community groups will help to map and monitor the changing climate in the park and record the numbers and types of birds, insects and plants.
Speaking in March about the project, Ms Ali said: “The project aims to enhance the attractiveness of Horton Park as well as improving the local community’s quality of life.
“Horton Park is one of the oldest public parks in the city, originally opening in 1878, and has protected heritage status on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England.”
Dr Sebastiaan van Herk, EU programme coordinator at Bax & Company, said: “Internationally, Saira actively championed European collaboration through a city-to-city learning programme to improve these UK schemes, whilst inspiring us in our own European cities through our Interreg BEGIN project.
“Saira brought a new dimension to our social innovation programme by promoting inter-departmental collaboration, involving other stakeholders as schools, universities and community groups, and particularly through her focus on socio-cultural inclusiveness in planning for SuDS, especially in the inner-city areas.”
Ms Ali has also secured additional funding to assist in the delivery of blue, water-related, such as ponds and drainage, and green, such as trees and plants, infrastructure projects over the next few years.
These projects include the Top of Town Public Realm Improvement Scheme; the Blue Green Gateways project which will see improved planting margins for three major highways junction improvement schemes in West Bradford and the Naturalising Bradford Beck project which will improve flood resilience and biodiversity at Shipley Fields.
Ms Ali will also play a role in the regeneration projects to be funded by the recently announced Towns Fund Grants for Keighley and Shipley.