Ark National Flood Resilience Centre

Client: The University of Hull & Humberside Fire & Rescue

Value: £12.5m

Contract: Business Case


Cost Management

Ark: National Flood Resilience Centre is the first facility of its kind anywhere in the world. It provides realistic environments that will enable businesses, specialists and communities to build resilience through collaborative training and research.

Including a full sized street scene and other settings, Ark will create specific, real-life flood scenarios where emergency responders will train and practice safely together.

As the risk of flooding increases, Ark’s facilities will enable our researchers to improve the understanding of floods and find better ways to predict, prepare for and manage the impact of flooding on individuals, communities and the economy.

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This business case sets out the rationale to establish Ark – National Flood Resilience Centre. The first of its kind in the world, Ark is being developed through a partnership between the University of Hull and Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, to construct
and operate a world-leading centre of excellence with unique, purpose-built facilities for community resilience, flood research and responder training.

There is a significant and growing national risk around preparedness for major flooding incidents. Many vulnerable communities do not understand their risk or what to do about it. There is an urgent need to improve emergency flood training for responder agencies and undertake effective large-scale research into flood processes and the effects of flooding upon communities and individuals. No single facility currently exists in the world with the operational capability to focus on this specific area. In the US, New York State Department of Homeland Security and Rescue opened a facility in June 2018 which offers the closest comparison. It is based on the Ark design and provides helpful proof of concept and valuable learning, but lacks the breadth of capability or scope of application planned for Ark. Training for emergency responders currently does not reflect typical urban operational environments or accurately simulate the risks encountered. Swift water training, widely undertaken by Emergency Services, takes place in river water and presents a range of risks.

The Ark facility will address these problems and will also provide a unique research and innovation resource of global significance, helping drive world leading research and international collaboration in flood processes, risk and resilience. A suitable site has been identified for the project in North Lincolnshire. Ark is strongly supported by the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and a range of other organisations, including Local Authorities and the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The partners are now engaging actively with other stakeholders to garner wider support, explore future operational relationships and, crucially, bridge the current gap in funding. The partners started working together on Ark in 2017 and aim to open the Centre in 2021, subject to finalising funding.


To make the UK a world leader in flood resilience, research and response by creating a unique national centre with purpose built facilities for training, research and innovation.

The ‘world first’ National Flood Resilience Centre will be built in the Humber, the region which, outside London, is the most vulnerable to flooding and poses the greatest risk to the UK economy, mostly because of its significance as a major energy provider for the nation.

What will it do?

Ark is a unique integrated multi-agency training, research, innovation and community engagement flood resilience facility. It will simulate urban swift and still water flood events in a realistic, cost effective, safe, managed environment and will improve coherent regional, national and international flood responsiveness.

It seeks to engage all relevant agencies to address a growing need for fast, effective and efficient responses to flood emergencies and flood mitigation.

Ark will work with businesses and communities to build resilience, helping to raise awareness and preparedness, ensuring an effective and co-ordinated response to flood risk, protecting life and wellbeing, minimising flood damage and aiding rapid recovery.

It will make its world-class facilities available to businesses for collaborative research, development and innovation to bring forward new products and solutions that mitigate flood risk and increase resilience.

The unique component of the facility is a large, integrated system of basins and channels through which water can be pumped at different rates and levels to create a wide range of realistic flooding scenarios. It uses bathing quality water to ensure the health of users. This is currently a significant issue in training for emergency services, resulting in lost workdays and cost to the taxpayer in the immediate aftermath of open water training exercises. At its heart is a full-scale street scene – ‘Inundation Street’ – simulating an urban environment comprising mock commercial and residential properties and street infrastructure.

What will it cost?

The estimated capital cost for construction, based on the existing design, is currently £12.5m excluding VAT. Provisionally, the University of Hull and Humberside Fire and Rescue Service have each committed £1m.

Following preliminary market analysis and assessment of operational costs, the Ark team has developed financial projections based on a number of operational scenarios. These consider cautious and optimistic scenarios across a range of income opportunities and clearly indicate the facility will be financially sustainable.

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