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Slow the Flow is a new document  outlining details of rain gardens & other DIY ideas to help protect Hassocks from flooding.

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Debris Dam in Lag Wood.jpg

 A 'leaky' debris dam in Lag Wood - Photo courtesy of Paul Roberts

‘Slowing the Flow’ Flood risk reduction in Hassocks

This has been the winter of floods: record rainfalls across the country, with a series of intense storms dumping a month’s-worth of rain in a day or two.  Has Hassocks just been lucky to avoid flooding, despite the recent torrential rain?  Maybe, but a group of local residents has been working for the last four years on natural flood management to reduce flood risk in our village.  Our Floods and SuDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems) group is composed of members of HKD Transition and Hassocks Community Organisation (HCO) together with the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust (OART).

The natural flood management (NFM) approach is to ‘slow the flow’ – that is to reduce the volume of water entering the five tributaries which converge on the Herring Stream in the village. We have built ‘leaky’ debris dams in Lag Wood, built Rain Gardens in Adastra Park and Adastra Avenue and installed Rain Planters throughout Hassocks. An interpretation board in Adastra Park gives more details. We are also working with Downlands School on tree planting on their grounds.

This winter, Spitalford Bridge in the centre of Hassocks did not ‘choke’ as it did in similar storms in 2016, thus avoiding a repeat of the flooding in Parklands Road that year.

It is now being recognised nationally that “the Government needs to increase the creation of more natural drainage systems…” (The Guardian 17.02.20) and “to continue throwing concrete and endless amounts of money at defences such as high walls won’t stop the flooding.” (The Telegraph 11.02.20).


The major flooding in Fishlake is now recognised by many flood experts to have been exacerbated by the £86m of hard engineered flood defences put in upstream to protect Sheffield. These defences had the effect of moving water quicker and in large volumes to downstream areas.

Sadly this pattern appears to have been repeated more recently in the Calder Valley which flooded for the third time in seven years despite about £30m already spent in the region on hard engineered defences.

The modest measures being taken in Hassocks do appear to be having an effect. We must prepare for more intense storms in the future and it would appear that we are on the right track.

Fred Maillardet (HCO)                                                                                   

JULIET MERRIFIELD of HKD Transition which works with HCO on flood projects in the village says:


There is a lot going on! It’s exciting to see things beginning to happen and we hope to secure funding to get a lot more done this year.

  • Adastra Park rain garden

  • Adastra Avenue rain garden (between the road and the stream, to store road runoff and slow its progress into the stream, reducing flooding downstream). 

  • Potential ‘rain garden street’ project in Chancellors Park – the idea being to demonstrate what can be done in one of the many residential streets in Hassocks with grass verges, to store runoff from the road and slow its flow into the storm drains and stream. 

  • Potential NFM in Adastra Park, along the stream on the north end.  

  • Potential NFM pond in Parklands Copse: this was identified in the WSCC Surface Water Management Plan for Hassocks, and this site would be ideal to reduce peak flows and pressure on Spitalford Bridge. 

  • Reducing flooding in Hassocks leaflet – a 4 page A5 leaflet to be delivered to all Hassocks homes, and will cover the kinds of things people can do in their own homes to help (water butts, rainbox planters, garden ponds, permeable paving etc) as well as some of our community projects.

  • Stream survey team – still doing quarterly stream surveys, with new sampling sites.


Sussex Wildlife Trust has come up with a number of suggestions which we can do as individuals to counteract flooding locally.

The Trust says: We want to help people to influence their environment and to help tackle our water and wetland issues. There is a whole wealth of ways that you can help improve the health of our rivers and wetlands in Sussex. For ideas, see our Make a Difference pages, or help us with some of the following :-


Reducing Flood Risk in Hassocks  – A Report by Peter King of Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust. February 2016

Make a rain garden - find out how.

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