Using a risk framework in adapting a regeneration site

Wolverhampton Metropolitan Borough Council

March 2010

  • UK
  • Built environment
  • Flooding

Wolverhampton Metropolitan Borough Council and English Partnerships developed a plan for a large mixed use development on old industrial, derelict and under-used land in Bilston. Wolverhampton City Council worked with Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and partners to build climate resilience into this new development – Bilston Urban Village. Adaptation was applied primarily through sustainable drainage features and contouring of the new landform.

Main messages

The master planning process for such sites needs consider the resilience of the whole site and area infrastructure to climate change. It was crucial that adaptation was embedded in key processes – risk assessment and project appraisal, and not added on as an afterthought.

In detail


Development of a £200m project – mixed use development – employment, leisure, residential – on a brownfield site in Bilston.

Local commitment to tackle climate change (Nottingham Declaration equivalent signed by Wolverhampton City Council).

Enthusiastic Sustainability Officer at the City Council.

Main players & partners

  • Sustainability Officer, Wolverhampton City Council
  • Sustainability West Midlands Climate Change Partnership
  • Advantage West Midlands (regional RDA)


The 41 hectare site was vulnerable to flooding – a brook runs through the centre of the area, and impermeable surfaces over 34 hectares of the site made it more vulnerable to surface water flooding. The impacts of this had the potential to be extended beyond the site boundaries.

NOTE: The 1998 plan was a quick assessment of what the site could accommodate. The Council and AWM’s later masterplan was submitted in 2005. It was this version which was subject to scrutiny from a climate change adaptation point of view.

The process used the Risk, uncertainty & decision-making framework tool developed by UKCIP.


Environmental Statement and its supporting Climate Change Assessment for the site propose the inclusion of a wide range of features focusing on sustainable drainage systems and managing flood threat. An interactive CD based report entitled Bilston Urban Village – Climate Change Adaptation Report (January 2007) is available.



By identifying the vulnerabilities of the site (and the wider area) at the outset, proposed measures can be included in the masterplanning process, making them cheaper and more effective than retrofitting (or retrodesigning).


A hiatus in the overall process may threaten the overall commitment to this approach – new developers coming along may need to be engaged with the process and the ideals.