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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V042084/1
Title: Virtual decision rooms for water neutral urban planning (VENTURA)
Principal Investigator: Mijic, Dr A
Other Investigators:
Jackson, Dr CR Beriro, Dr D Zimmermann, Dr N
Marchant, Mr A Whyte, Professor J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Enfield Council Environment Agency (Grouped) Greater Manchester Combined Authority
Department: Civil & Environmental Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 May 2021 Ends: 30 April 2023 Value (£): 809,577
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Information & Knowledge Mgmt Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Water Environment
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Mar 2021 Digital Economy Sustainable Digital Society 2021 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
VENTURA is a digital service based on interdisciplinary systems approaches to infrastructure that allows end-users to explore housing and water system planning options through a virtual participatory process supported by state-of-the-art process-driven models. The research involves co-creating a web-based and end-user led prototype called a virtual decision room (VDR) to help movements towards a sustainable digital society. The VDR will be co-created with local government, the local community, regulators and water utility companies ('end-users') to collaboratively plan and evaluate the environmental sustainability of urban growth planning scenarios using co-designed water neutrality indicators during the project. The VDR will use a whole-water system Digital Twin (FuturaWat) that supports evidence-led water neutral planning for place making. This will be achieved by integrating two state-of-art digital tools: GIS-based ground risk calculator (GRISC) and whole-water system model (CityWat) with a participatory process to facilitate end-user discussion and decision-making on housing and water system planning scenarios. The key novelty of the proposed research is in applying systems approaches to infrastructure planning, collaborative working and sustainability evaluation.

The VDR will be tested by applying it to Greater Manchester and London Borough of Enfield case study examples to enable end-users to align their strategic planning and water management priorities. The VENTURA concept was co-developed with our project partners, who have helped us formulate Greater Manchester (GM) and London Borough of Enfield (LBE) case examples. In GM the work will directly support the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) 'levelling up' strategies and help them to holistically address 'challenges to delivery when considering wider issues such as flood risk, brownfield land remediation, environmental degradation and wider resilience to climate change'. The LBE case example will support Enfield Council in their transition to a digital platform that will enable correlation of infrastructure needs with investment opportunities and help them to more effectively engage with local communities and discuss local plans, which currently do not include water demand and water quality evaluation because of lack of evidence. Both case examples will explicitly account for community perspectives through collaborations with partner local NGOs: Thames21 (LBE) and The Mersey Rivers Trust (GM).

VENTURA directly addresses the current UK Government's high-profile strategic initiatives including 'Planning for the future' White Paper and the National Digital Twin Programme. In particular, VENTURA provides a proof-of-concept for the White Paper's highly ambitious proposals that seek to reduce the duration of the planning cycle significantly, supporting net gains in the quality of the environment and front-loading public engagement in the planning system to the plan-making stage of place-making.

The research will adapt traditional working practices to help the work become more sustainable. This will be formalised through the development of a sustainability policy for the research and will include initiatives such as monitoring and managing environmental performance by embedding into project management, reporting progress and sharing good practice with other EPSRC projects.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk