Rain garden brings wildlife and prevents flooding at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

Rain garden brings wildlife and prevents flooding at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

Gloucester MP Richard Graham joined hospital staff and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to plant up this new haven for people and wildlife.

Installed at the hospital as part of the Gloucester and Cheltenham Waterscapes project, run by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) and funded by RSA Insurance, the rain garden is bringing biodiversity and natural flood management to a previously unloved area outside the Accident and Emergency department.

A large, raised planter surrounded by a curved wooden bench, the new hospital rain garden can capture a staggering 800 litres of water. As seen all too often across Gloucestershire, surface-water flooding can bring chaos to communities and have dramatic impacts on wildlife when the water from flash-flooding eventually enters our rivers. Sustainable urban drainage features, such as rain gardens, green verges and green-roofed bus stops, can reduce some of this flash flooding, by holding back water, cleaning it, then releasing it slowly back into our watercourses.

A whopping 15,000 homes in Gloucester and 8,500 homes in Cheltenham are potentially vulnerable to flooding each year. We’ve seen the devastating impact flooding causes across the county already in 2024, and with climate change continuing to cause unpredictable weather, it looks like this will only continue.

Three men and two women sit on a curved bench that surrounds a rain garden

But it’s not just benefits to flooding that the rain garden will bring. Located directly outside the busy Accident and Emergency department, it provides a peaceful place to relax for staff and visitors. Access to nature is known to bring benefits to wellbeing and improve mental and physical health. GWT’s CEO Andrew McLaughlin said:

“We want 1 in 4 people in Gloucestershire to engage with nature, so being able to bring people closer to nature at the hospital is fantastic. The impact of flooding on local rivers and communities is extraordinary, but projects like this showcase the benefits that nature can bring to urban spaces.”

The team at the hospital were thrilled to get the chance to bring a slice of nature to staff and visitors. Simon Wadley, Managing Director of Gloucester Managed Service said:

"Incorporating our new rain garden at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital not only exemplifies our commitment to sustainability but also serves as a tangible expression of our Green Plan in action. By harnessing nature's innate ability to manage stormwater, we not only enhance the beauty of our surroundings but also contribute to the well-being of our community and the planet at large. It's a small yet impactful step towards a greener, more resilient future."

Further work planned as part of the Gloucester and Cheltenham Waterscapes project includes the construction of a large swale in Naunton Park, which has already been installed, an enlargement of the Plock Court wetland area in Gloucester, plus a number of driveway de-paves in Charlton Kings.

Two men stand looking at the rain garden, one of them is tipping a bag of bark into the rain garden

The project sees RSA Insurance investing in nature-based interventions to help limit the impact of flooding on local habitats and improve the resilience of local communities. The work will be good for people and good for wildlife, helping to reduce flood risk and boosting biodiversity.

Laura Spiers, Head of Social Impact & ESG at RSA Insurance said: “The new rain garden at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital will help raise awareness of the practical steps that can be taken in communities to protect against flooding, as well as promoting biodiversity. We’re pleased to be working with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and hope that our work to build natural flood management solutions inspires action in other regions too.”

You can find out more about the Gloucester and Cheltenham Waterscapes project here.