SPONGE2020 multi-council environment logo

Co-creation and implementation of innovative, participative climate adaptation solutions in densely built areas.

Part of the 2 Seas Interreg Programme (www.interreg2seas.eu) funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

What is SPONGE2020?

SPONGE2020 is a project partnership between Dutch, British and Flemish local government and water authorities to co-create and implement innovative climate change adaption solutions such as Sustainable Urban Drainage (SuDS) with local stakeholders. SPONGE2020 paves the way for a wide rollout of these solutions to reduce the risks of and damage from urban flooding across the 2 Seas areas at considerably lower costs.

Why do we need these solutions?

Cities and densely built areas must adapt to more frequent intense rainfall and increased risks of urban flooding. Traditional methods for drainage and sewage infrastructure cannot solve this challenge due to financial and spatial constraints. Local (water) authorities must resort to alternative, innovative solutions that integrate smart adaptation features in public and private spaces and buildings across their territory. Local stakeholders including residents, urban planners, housing associations etc. need to become involved in the implementation of those adaptation measures in and on their own properties.

Southend-On-Sea and SPONGE2020

Our aim on this project is adaptation for Climate Change in Southend-on-Sea to demonstrate how SuDS and surface water management measures can be implemented across the Borough to deliver long-term sustainable water management. The project presents a great opportunity to develop and demonstrate the design of attractive public open spaces and the development of social cohesion to improve the quality of life and create better communities, using green space to store runoff, creating attractive areas for social and recreational activities, etc.

Alongside this, we are currently developing a programme for improving the public realm around the Town Centre area, at the heart of the Borough, making it the ideal location for demonstration of sustainable drainage systems.

The Town Centre in Southend is a busy commercial hub with a library, museum, cinema, college and University campus, shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightclubs.

We will be engaging in a participative process with local businesses, public services (Court Services/Police Stations/ Hospital), Councillors, Developers, Anglian Water, DEFRA, Environment Agency, residents, local interest groups and schools to:

  • Follow a co-creation process to select appropriate SuDS measures for various locations
  • Implement co-created retrofitted SuDS measures integrated in the design of public spaces and landscaped areas in the Town Centre and the seafront
  • Implement co-created SuDS measures in public spaces in a new residential development at the Town Centre.

We will use the implementation sites as living classrooms to encourage local businesses, schools and residents to adopt SuDS on their properties. The pilot will be implemented in conjunction with Southend Central Area Transport Scheme, Local Transport Plan and Better Queensway re-development projects. The adaptation measures from the co-creation process make this pilot relevant for replication in other commercial city centres.

What is Interreg 2 Seas?

SPONGE2020 receives European funding from the Interreg - 2 Mers Seas Seas (www.interreg2seas.eu). This European program aims to enhance international cooperation for purposes that require international approach, such as the effects of climate change. A particular concern of the SPONGE2020 project is awareness of the issues and cooperation with all stakeholders, including residents, but also housing associations, architects, urban planners, local authorities, associations, etc. Co-creation of potential solutions contributes to water awareness and jointly supported responsibility.

Who is working on SPONGE2020?

Cross Border Approach

Involving local stakeholders in co-creation and implementing innovative climate adaptation measures is new terrain for local (water) authorities. The group consists of partners with experience in alternative adaptation techniques, stakeholder mobilisation and co-creation of public interventions. By putting these capacities together in cross-border cooperation we create the opportunity to develop, pilot and demonstrate participative climate adaptation actions to increase the adaptation capacity of our partner cities and other densely built territories.

The Regional Water authority of Schieland and Krimpenerwaard are the lead partner and are responsible for the co-ordination between the partners.

Members of the partnership are:



United Kingdom

A presentation about SPONGE2020 was given by Lynsey Adams of Southend-On-Sea Borough Council, UK and Marc Botermans of Municipality of Leiden, Netherlands at the Water Resilient Cities 2017 Conference, 4 October 2017, Mechelen, Belgium.

SPONGE2020 Conference

SPONGE2020 Conference Programme

SPONGE2020 Conference Flyer

Further information about the project can be found on the Interreg SPONGE2020 website.

Contact Better Southend

Telephone: 01702 215408

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