SLOUGH has taken a step further following in Wuhan’s footsteps in becoming a ‘sponge’ town by introducing absorbent roads to tackle flooding across the borough.

In March 2021, the council was granted up to £7.9m from the government’s £150m flood and coastal resilience innovation programme to help ease flooding in the area.

One of the schemes for Slough is to transform its roads and pavements in most of the borough’s wards, except for Langley and Colnbrook with Poyle, affected by flooding with permeable surfaces that will absorb rain and flood water, relieving pressure on flood defences.

This concept is known as a ‘sponge city,’ and was first conceived in Wuhan, China. The project will span six years.

This scheme will primarily benefit the homes and businesses within the Chalvey Ditches and Salt Hill Stream River catchments in northwest Slough and South Bucks as surface water flooding has caused disruption and a risk to life in those communities.

Other measures include creating and restoring natural vegetation to better drain and manage rainwater by providing more sustainable and enriched public spaces with catchments by river restoration. A third project involves enhancing flood monitoring to prepare for future events and raising community awareness of surface water flooding.

Parts of Slough have flooded seven times in the past 13 years, affecting about 3,500 homes and nearly 700 businesses.

According to Cllr Mohammed Nazir (Lab: Baylis & Stoke), lead member for the local environment, dead fish, rubbish, and debris were found in the Salt Hill Stream River catchment, causing mass blockages.

Senior councillors agreed at a cabinet meeting to enter into partnerships with two charities, the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust and the National Flood Forum, for them to support the delivery of the schemes.

Presenting the report at Monday’s cabinet meeting, Cllr Nazir said this was “good news” for Slough and hopes these measures will make the borough more flood resilient.

A full business case for the schemes will be developed and submitted next autumn for funding approval. It is anticipated for the projects to be completed by 2027.