School RainScape for Water and Wildlife Garden in Hungerford

Our recent installation was in West Berkshire, in a small country market town called Hungerford for Chilton Foliat Primary School. The small primary school was keen to encourage environmental outdoor play and to solve issues of playground flooding. The school approached their local Rivers Trust, Action for the River Kennet (ARK), and together they sought funding to create a water-wise play space to manage surface water.

The school had a strong working relationship with their local rivers trust Action for the River Kennet and together they sought funding to create a playspace that managed water sustainably and benefited the wider environment.

Design Brief

Action for the River Kennet engaged Wendy Allen Designs to create a rainscape design for the school. Wendy is an award-winning designer who specialises in creative rainwater

‘Allowing water to infiltrate reduces surface water ponding and run-off from hard surfaces,’ says Wendy. ‘Having previously used SureSet in a show garden, I knew their resin bound permeable surface would add huge value to this scheme.’
A huge thank you to you and your team for making the whole process such a success. Looks absolutely fantastic!

Key Sustainable Requirements

The school sits on the banks of the River Kennet, and the river has inspired the school’s vision. The work in the playground was part of the school’s aim to demonstrate ‘love for the local area’. They did this by asking for a design that would benefit both the wildlife in the playground and water quality in the nearby river Kennet. Action for the River Kennet has a successful track record of creating rain gardens in school settings, working with Wendy Allen and the schools to design projects that provide play and amenities as well as increased biodiversity and improved rainwater management.

Wendy Allen’s innovative design included imaginative play features 1350L cylindrical water storage tank installed (it was painted to look like a caterpillar) and held any collected rainwater to reuse for watering plants (to help conserve mains tap water). A hand pump is used by pupils to direct water to the top of a slope, where a clever ‘permeable stream’ natural play feature
(surfaced with SureSet and edged with local sarsen stone boulders) allows water to soak in over tree roots.

The various existing surfaces in the main play area were unified with SureSet to create a seamless level play space.

Installation Phase 1 – Uniting the main playground

SureSet completed our regular site visit before our installation in June 2021 to check again the condition of the existing base and measure the areas required in resin bound as per the plans submitted and discussed at the estimation stage.

On the day of installation, a Natural Aggregate that was supplied by Grantex Surfacing – A blend of these natural stones were designed by SureSet’s in-house technical team to be suitable for the school’s particular traffic type, the name of the blend is 6mm, Chestnut.

The Chestnut colour is a beautiful natural dark brown stone with hints of deep red and is a popular choice.

The playground area of approximately 50m² stretched across some well-established tree roots, it was important that when resurfacing this area the roots were not damaged but also received sufficient water, SureSet resin bound gravel is a SuDS compliant paving material, that water drains through reducing puddling but would ensure water would drain down to the tree roots or any nearby runoff points.

The base around the tree was an MOT Type 3, a free-draining crushed stone that includes no fines or dust for extra porosity. A Crack Reduction Membrane was applied before installing the required stone and resin that was mixed on-site in a forced action Baron mixer, levelled at a 30mm depth using a spazzle tool, and compressed smooth with a hand float, both of which are supplied by The Resin Bull and available to buy online.

The remaining area adjacent to the playground had over 75m² of existing tarmac (asphalt base) in good condition, fairly typical for SureSet resin Systems, where we hand trowelled the natural stone material ‘6mm Chestnut’ to an 18mm depth – a resin bound surface course at this depth is suitable for school ground pedestrian traffic.

We are delighted! Everyone at the school is thrilled as were the parents and children when they returned to school after the holidays! What a transformation!

Everything was left clean and tidy in a prompt manner. It was a pleasure to work with you and your team.

Installation Phase 2 – Stream Feature

This phase of this project was funded by the charity ARK Action for the River Kennet. The installation took place just after the Easter school holidays, in May 2022.

SureSet helped advise Garden Designer Wendy Allen on the best way to achieve the next phase of a natural-looking ‘stream’ play feature, as they were keen to incorporate Spectrum tumbled crushed glass with the occasional white flecks to capture a true artistic measure of a running stream.

Our technical team worked on a bespoke blend of resin bound colour variations that would represent the water aiming to use less pigment content in an attempt to make it more opaque.

Wendy Allen provided a SketchUp model as a guide to show the approximate dimensions of the stream feature. The sarsen boulders, logs, etc act as the retaining edges for the resin bound paving to be installed against, creating a 0.5m width by 10m length winding stream on an approx. 7% slope. The sub base beneath the resin bound materials was built up with 100mm depth crushed, clean 20mm limestone.

Supplied and installed was 5m² at a maximum 30mm depth of 3mm Clear Water blue 70/30 blend of SureSet BBA Approved permeable resin bound paving.

Working as part of a nature-based scheme to cope with climate change, that is based on water management and education was a pleasure. We are so pleased resin bound paving is being used for its permeable characteristics, and we know it will provide the school with years of use and minimal maintenance.

Dave Shell / Head of Commercial Sales & Operations