Water Cycle Study - Bracknell Forest

We carried out a Water Cycle Study for Bracknell Forest Council in order to assess the impacts of their planned growth of 12,060 new homes and economic development on the water environment and water and wastewater services.


Local Planning Authorities in England are required by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to demonstrate that planned development will be sustainable for its lifetime and that there will be no deterioration caused to water bodies, in line with the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

This study aimed to take a proactive approach, identifying where potential negative impacts would need to be mitigated and considering how the impacts of new developments could be reduced through site selection and water-sensitive design.


Two Water Cycle Study phases were prepared in line with Environment Agency guidance. Firstly, a rapid scoping assessment was prepared, based primarily on existing information. This led to an outline study which included assessments of all aspects of the water cycle.

Water and wastewater supply and treatment boundaries and river catchments often span across several Local Planning Authority areas. The study involved significant collaboration with neighbouring authorities, as well as water supply and wastewater service providers.

The most significant area of assessment was the water quality assessment. This was carried out using the Environment Agency’s SIMCAT models, which were updated to account for recent changes in flow and pollutant loads and used to assess the impacts of increased effluent discharges on the water environment.


The Water Cycle Study provided the evidence base required to demonstrate how water and wastewater services will be developed to meet the Local Planning Authority’s growth plans without causing detriment to the environment. It also helped provide evidence of the tighter Building Regulations standard of designing homes where per capita water demand does not exceed 110 litres per person per day and how this should be applied. The process has also helped to strengthen communications between planners and the water and wastewater companies.

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Want to know more?

For more information about this project, please contact Paul Eccleston.


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