The UK Climate Resilience Programme ran from 2019 to 2023

Climate Action Strategy for City of London – Adaptive Design/Pathways for London’s Cubic Mile

This placement was designed to support the delivery of the City of London Corporation’s Climate Action Strategy 2020-2027. It will address an identified research gap, evaluating how urban subsurface space can be used to improve the resilience of the City to extreme weather and long- term climatic change. The placement aims to identify the current gaps and uncertainty in subsurface use, and focuses on five potential subsurface adaptation measures:

  • Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs)
  • Urban greening and tree planting
  • Cool spaces below ground
  • Ground source energy
  • Prevention of damage to buried utility services

The outcomes will feed directly into the City of London’s next phase of climate resilience planning, assist in the identification of suitable locations for potential adaptation measures, and support other projects such as the City’s Cool Streets and Greening programme. The lessons learnt will be applicable to other cities and urban areas who wish to evaluate the use of subsurface space in climate resilience adaptation.


The City of London “Square Mile” is the historic centre of London and the financial and commercial heart of the UK. It is a very high-density urban environment.

Specific modelling carried out by the Met Office (UKCP18) for ‘The City’ of London indicates that overall winters will be 20% wetter and summers 30% drier with more extreme weather events and sea level rise. Increased rainfall and surface water run-off present an issue for The City, where the presence of hard surfaces will significantly increase the risk of flooding of high-profile commercial premises. The projected increase in temperatures and heatwaves will also lead to increased mortality and issues of overheating for The City’s people and services. The future resilience of The City to climate change is high on the City of London Corporation’s agenda.


This 12-month placement will focus on the use of subsurface space to support delivery of the Climate Action Strategy by identifying potential opportunities for subsurface space to improve climate resilience. The project will evaluate a range of subsurface climate adaptation options and will help answer three questions for the City of London:

  • How can the urban subsurface help us meet our climate resilience objectives?
  • What subsurface measures can be implemented and where?
  • If current understanding is insufficient, what work is needed to fill the gaps?


  • Data and Policy Review – focussing on the subsurface and the five identified adaptations measures.
  • Shared data-model to assess current subsurface space use and future climate resilient land uses in the City of London; and enhance the design of geoscience decision-support systems for urban planners.
  • Identify suitable locations for the implementation of subsurface climate adaptation measures in the City of London
  • Co-produce mixed-media materials for wider engagement with (non-technical) stakeholders to promote national scale delivery of climate actions by urban planners.