In October 2021 Her Majesty the Queen accorded Southend on Sea, City Status, much to the joy of all, bringing the community closer together in what has no doubt been a challenging time for the coastal region.

Located on the Southeast coast in the county of Essex, north of the Thames Estuary approximately 40 miles east of central London, Southend is perfectly situated as a commuter hub and tourist attraction with its own airport and of course, the longest pleasure pier in the world!

Southend-on-Sea originally consisted of just a few fishermen’s huts and farms, in the 1790s, the first buildings were constructed which then became Southend’s High Street. In the 19th century, Southend’s status as a seaside resort grew and Southend Pier was constructed. In the 1960s, much of the town centre was developed for commerce and retail, and many of its original structures were lost to redevelopment.

Today, re-development continues with Southend City Council implementing Southend 2050, a 5-year collaborative approach to drive change and improve the lives of all by considering the Environment, Smart Cities and Health and Well-being.  “Better Southend” identifies improvements with a local infrastructure to enable transport connectivity, providing better access to work, education, study and improving sustainable links through walking and cycling.

In tackling Climate Change, Southend City Council also become a Partner of the EU Interreg 2 Seas programme “Cool Towns”. Funding was received to support the aim to enhance the town centre, reduce the risk of flooding and mitigate against the effects of heat stress through evapotranspiration, measurably cooling the air. The council was able to refer to its surface water management plan highlighting areas most at risk, at which point a collaborative approach was then formed with fellow Partner GreenBlue Urban to design a Sustainable Urban Drainage solution that would help mitigate both.

London Road, a main public access point to Southend High Street next to Victoria Plaza was highlighted as the area of implementation.  Little to no shading and taxis running in the taxi rank, contribute to increased temperatures in the area. Through the town improvement project, the taxi rank was moved with an enhanced footway, new block paving, street furniture, green cycle parking shed and a row of trees with sustainable drainage capabilities.  The scope was updated to install less however substantially larger trees that would provide greater initial impact and provide the shading as required per the cool town’s initiative to tackle heat stress.

Contractors, Eurovia supported the installation of 7 trees to enable Avenue Planting along London Road. GreenBlue Urban was pleased to supply RootSpace 600 soil cells for the continuously linked pit, two RootRain ArborVent 150 aeration inlets per tree enabled continuous aeration, RootDirectors guided roots down and away from the paved surface above and ArborGuys underground rootball guying systems provided the long-term stability for the well-established species. Above ground saw Ullswater guards and Settstone precast tree grilles – our newest grille constructed of permeable materials and therefore SuDS compliant being highly porous as well as being of high strength and easy to assemble!

Further enhancement along the roadside came in the form of beautifully landscaped rain gardens, a further SuDS feature that can significantly assist with reducing peak flows into the drainage network. Soil cells beneath enable stormwater storage, taking pollution to run off and gradually percolating through the specialist soil, maintaining nutrients enabling healthy green infrastructure and enhancing biodiversity.

A total of 10,000 m2 of space with 28,000 daily users now benefit from the 4 pillars of SuDS including enhanced biodiversity, pollution reduction, economic growth and aesthetic improvements, above all achieving the initial brief of improved heat resilience for all an exemplar project for all involved!