The Municipality of Middelburg adopted a co-creation process, actively involving the citizens throughout the whole process. At the start of the project a simpler design was foreseen. However, local residents were unhappy with the design. A stakeholder strategy (intensive stakeholder process) was a necessity and the design had to be shelved.
Molenwater is the main public park in the centre of the city and residents have strong attachments to it and so resist change and have strong opinions about its future. The park will be a legacy of their contribution to the process and this will strengthen future decision making regarding the upkeep of the park.
This pilot investment explores solutions for retrofitting of SUDS in two different types of urban public space: green and paved surface.
The stakeholder process involved a number of stages that gave residents a real say in the final design, enabling them to specify a considerable number of measures to improve the quality of the park. In each stage of the project at least 25 to 30 stakeholders got involved. We increased awareness of the importance of water storage and infiltration in green city area. The inclusive design process has proved to be a good investment. The stakeholders have been involved from the start and now support, rather than oppose the designs.
The final plan for Molenwater park
A multidisciplinary team designed the plan for Molenwater (city engineers, landscape architects, historic experts on Molenwater, watermanagement engineers and students of the University of Applied Sciences), using WRC SUDS design principles. Surveys determined the site characteristics and constraints from spatial, heritage, biodiversity and amenity perspectives. This information provided the baseline for the design process. The drainage environment was assessed (existing drains, water volumes, flows, new drainage routes etc) and city engineers worked in close cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences and the Waterboard. This multidisciplinary team developed a final design, integrating the results of the modelling with landscape and urban design expertise to develop a detailed plan of the construction works.
The feasibility of the desired options arising from public engagement could be tested in more detail via the hydraulic modelling, allowing calculations of dimensions, locations, flow routes etc. of the proposed SUDS features.
Artist impression of Molenwater park
The final design was the basis for procurement of construction contractors. The final stage of the pilot, the construction of the new SUDS, retrofitted into a high quality environment. At the end of 2019, construction contractors completed the drainage works, the park planting, water-experience and landscaping. ‘Water-experience’ is an educational recreational feature, raising awareness about water and climate change. The planting of trees and hedges will be completed in early 2020 when the conditions are optimal.
Molenwater park during the construction works