Work to improve flooding in Littlehampton is being used as a blueprint for other schemes in the county.
The Littlehampton Rain Garden has been developed to capture rainwater along the length of a busy highway using an ingenious design.
Developed and maintained by Littlehampton Civic Society, the garden was supported with lottery and West Sussex County Council funding, and recently scooped the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s Sussex Countryside Award for New Sussex Landscapes.
Organisers of the Operation Watershed Active Community Fund now hope the rain garden’s success will encourage applications for similar initiatives.
Terry Ellis, from the civic society, said the rain garden was a true community project, so it was fantastic that it had received recognition.
“So many different people worked on it, from children up to adults, from the residents to the councils, local Scouts and the West Downs Neighbourhood Watch Task Force.”
Volunteers from the civic society, the Arc Project, West Downs Neighbourhood Force and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service were joined by pupils from The Littlehampton Academy to plant the garden.
The attractive and well-drained garden strip is opposite Arun Civic Centre, in Maltravers Road.
Bob Lanzer, county council cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: “I am delighted to hear that the Littlehampton project has received this recognition as it is an important addition to the care of our environment.
“Operation Watershed Active Community Fund is working hard with a number of groups across West Sussex to develop similar rain gardens. I hope that this project will inspire other local communities to develop similar schemes to manage water and enhance the public space in their own villages and towns.”
The county council is already working with a number of community groups to develop rain gardens in Hassocks, Worthing, Chichester city centre and in the Manhood Peninsula.
Jane Reeve, FLOW project manager for Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group, said: “I am a fan of rain gardens as they are able to hold water back during high rainfall events and store it for slow release or use later.
“Any method of storing water to prevent flooding is of benefit to wildlife and people as persistent heavy rainfall can create pollution events, displace people and wildlife from habitats and homes, and cause long-term environmental problems.
“Even if a rain garden can only store a small percentage of the water run-off, it will still be of benefit, as every bit of capacity helps.”
Operation Watershed, a shortlisted finalist in the Community Involvement 2018 Local Government Chronicle Awards, is keen to hear from any community groups interested in developing a rain garden. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.