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Safeguarding suburbia from a changing climate

New report on preparing neighbourhoods for future climate.

A new report from the Suburban Neighbourhood Adaptation for a Changing Climate project focuses on the 85% of the UK’s population who live in suburbs and how they can cope with the consequences of climate change, such as rising temperatures and increased flood risk.

Funded by the LWEC-accredited Adaptation and Resilience to a Changing Climate initiative, the project learnt from the experiences of six representative suburbs ranging from Stockport’s leafy Cheadle Hulme to the terraced houses of St Werburghs, Bristol.

Outputs from the project such as the final report (available to download below) will inform local authorities and other agencies.

“The project will show how we can help suburbs like St Werburghs remain pleasant places to live and work in the face of climate change”, says Lucy Darkin of Bristol City Council.   

Heat pumps, water collectors, external shading, raised building thresholds, ‘green’ and ‘blue’ infrastructure – these are some of the measures that could play an important role. But this project isn’t simply identifying potentially useful modifications to homes, gardens and neighbourhoods. It’s also pinpointing issues that will influence take-up, such as cost, visual impact, effect on house prices and lack of awareness.

Consultation with householders, local authorities, regulators, insurers, builders, architects and others involved in neighbourhood management is a key element in the initiative. So is learning from the USA, Australia and other countries where suburbs are already adapting to challenging climatic conditions.

“Suburbs have largely been overlooked in previous adaptation studies”, says Professor Katie Williams of the University of the West of England, who is leading this collaborative project with Oxford Brookes and Heriot-Watt Universities. “It’s already clear that equipping them to withstand climate change will require a gradual transformation and not just knee-jerk responses to extreme weather events.”    

snacc_report.pdf2.85 MB