Arguments for a Co-production Approach to Community Flood Protection

With more intense rainfall and sea level rises predicted, increasing numbers of people across the UK are vulnerable to flood events. The government has pledged more funding for flood infrastructure planning, design and management. However schemes tend to focus on technical solutions, with the social impact, including needs and concerns of the local community, seen as secondary. Based on a detailed examination of three case studies in England, this paper identifies the mechanisms through which current processes restrict industry professionals from considering and incorporating the social perspective, often in spite of seemingly effective community engagement. The paper argues for an approach that incorporates social concerns alongside the technical. Rather than ‘community engagement’, it is argued that ‘co-production’, in which lay communities work alongside technical experts in the design of flood risk alleviation schemes, would enable both a more socially acceptable, and also a more technically successful, final outcome.

Investigating the Social Value of the Ripon Rivers Flood Alleviation Scheme

This paper argues for an approach to flood alleviation design that considers the need not only for technical knowledge, but also a social perspective. It is predicted that more intense rainfall and rising sea levels will result in a greater number of people vulnerable to flood events. Flood alleviation design in the UK is often focused upon technical and cost-effective solutions, and consideration of social impact is seen as secondary. This paper examines how the social value of a UK flood alleviation scheme is perceived and discussed, by the local community and by those responsible for the design of the scheme, and exposes differences in perceptions both between and within these two groups. It recommends a future approach in which an understanding of the social value of a flood alleviation scheme is first co-produced with the community affected, enabling the design of a socially acceptable and successful project.

Flood Alleviation Design: Adopting a Social Perspective

The argument presented in this paper calls for an approach to flood alleviation design that
considers not only the need for a technical perspective, but a social perspective as well. As a result of
climate change and changing weather patterns, it is predicted that more intense rainfall will be
experienced with rising sea levels due to increased precipitation. Consequently, a greater number of
people across the world are vulnerable to flood events. Flooding is a social problem, affecting not only
people’s lives, but also the economic prosperity of local business and the local area. However, flood
alleviation design within the UK is focused upon technical and cost-effective solutions, neglecting the
consideration of the people it is designed to protect. This paper examines the preliminary findings from
research that seeks to understand how the social value of a UK flood alleviation scheme is interpreted
and discussed by the local community and those responsible for the design of the scheme. The
preliminary findings are taken from the examination of an example scheme conducted between October
and December 2013 in Ripon, Yorkshire, UK. A series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with
the local community and those responsible for the design and delivery of the flood alleviation scheme.
The findings presented will demonstrate how social value is articulated and the difference in interpretation
between the local community it is designed for compared to those responsible for the design and delivery
of it. The conclusions drawn from the preliminary research supports the argument that adopting a social
perspective in flood alleviation design produces not only a technically successful scheme, but a
considered and socially acceptable one. This is an approach for future adoption in flood alleviation
design, as more communities around the world are exposed to the very real risk of flood events.