Urban geology studies in the UK have historically focused on providing a background for land-use planning and regeneration in post-industrialised cities. However, at the present time, a new set of research drivers has emerged. In order to capitalise on these drivers the British Geological Survey recently developed its urban geology strategy in Wales in sympathy with current and future stakeholder needs. The first step in this process involved a scoping study to identify future planning and development requirements and the type of subsurface information required to support these. The study involved a review of local, regional and national plans and development strategies to identify subsurface challenges and opportunities. The next step was a series of stakeholder consultation workshops to elicit key knowledge-gaps and resource constraints led from the stakeholder’s perspective. This proactive, rather than reactive, approach to shaping the urban geology research strategy was developed in consultation with the Local Authorities, industry representatives, and local Government. This approach was trialled in two City Regions in Wales, Swansea Bay and Cardiff Capital and has provided a new evidence-base against which to set future urban geoscience research priorities.
The main geological challenges facing these City Regions relate to management and regulation of geo-system services provision and hazards, including Sustainable Drainage Systems, Low Carbon energy resources, flooding, land contamination, and engineering ground conditions. To address these challenges a 5-year programme of urban geology research is now underway.
Early successes from the programme include an improved appreciation of geological constraints and opportunities amongst planners, increased uptake and integration of subsurface information sharing initiatives within public and private sectors to underpin future research, and moves towards enshrining these initiatives in planning policy guidance notes. The benefit of the stakeholder-led approach is that it facilitates knowledge-exchange between geological specialists and non-geological specialists; a process which reveals both knowledge-gaps and new opportunities offered by geology in cities, as well as flagging-up potential constraints on urban development.