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Wisbech Garden Town - Dutch Visit

Monday 20th March, 2017

We have been working with a group of stakeholders in Wisbech on plans for a Garden Town over 18 months. The aim is to transform the town of Wisbech with substantial new housing developed linked to reopening of the railway line to March. Through our work this has been framed as a Garden Town with a series of garden city extensions to create sustainable new neighbourhoods. The problem is that most of these are affected in some way by flood risk. A study tour to Holland was therefore organised for all of the key stakeholders to see how the Dutch address these issues. Our David and Jie were invited to this very inspiring Holland study tour.


The tour was hosted by the HHNK (Hollands Noorderkwartier Regional) Waterboard and organised with the help of Royal Haskoning DHV who have offices in both Peterborough and the Netherlands. The purpose of the trip was to explore the Dutch approach to dealing with water and flood risk.


During the two days’ tour the trip begun with visiting the new sea defences created through ‘beach nourishment' at Camperduin and Petten. This was followed by a number of projects within Amsterdam to deal with surface water run-off before visiting a development of floating homes in the new IJburg neighbourhood. The evening was spent discussing the approaches to flood defence in the Netherlands and the UK with contributions on the Wisbech proposals, a talk by Enrico Moens of Sweco on the Dutch approach and contributions from Clare Dinnis and Ben Thornely on the Environment Agency’s approach in the UK.


On the second day the group split, with one party looking at floating gardens in Amsterdam before travelling to the Leidsche Rijn urban extension in Utrecht centred around the Waterwinpark used both for water extraction and attenuation. The other group visited two projects that combine both floodwater storage and recreational facilities. The Eendragspolder north of Rotterdam includes an international rowing lake and the Benthemplein Water Square in the heart of Rotterdam includes a games court and informal recreation in a series of flood storage basins.


The next step will be to commission a more detailed flood risk assessment of the Garden Town proposals to explore innovative solutions. In doing so we may well be challenging the received wisdom for flood risk in the UK.

Related projects

  • Study tour map

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