During the last six months, Fylde Council has been working on options for replacing the existing sea wall around The Island, St Annes.
The sea wall protects over 400 properties and businesses from coastal erosion and flooding. It is nearly 90 years old, and is approaching the end of its design life, with frequent repairs required, and an estimated residual life expectancy of ten years. Its low comparative height to the beach means that overtopping and flooding frequently occur, which is set to increase in line with current climate change predictions.
For the new sea defence to protect St Annes over its predicted design life of 100 years, studies have confirmed that the new sea wall promenade level needs to be approximately 2m higher than the existing promenade, together with a 1m high set back wall. This is a significant height increase and will alter the character of the existing frontage. The challenge is to integrate this elevated sea defence into the Island site.
Plans are being developed to produce an overall vision and masterplan for the Island Site (and St Annes Town Centre), but it is likely to be a number of years before this vision is realised. Ideally, the sea wall replacement and potential future Island development could be undertaken at the same time, minimizing disruption, and producing a seamless transition from the Island buildings and car parks to the sea wall frontage. However, due to the current real risk of flooding and structural failure, it is proposed to develop a sea wall replacement scheme now, ahead of any Island Masterplan proposals. Not only will it continue to protect existing properties and businesses, but it will provide a high-quality public space for visitors and locals to enjoy.
We have seen how visitors and local residents have enjoyed and benefitted from the new sea wall at Fairhaven, Granny’s Bay and Church Scar. The Environment Agency (EA) recognise the success of the Fairhaven to Church Scar scheme and want to build on this and continue working in partnership with Fylde Council, and has indicated that they are prepared to make further funding available for this purpose. They will not be able to fully fund the scheme and it will require contributions. Fylde Council are in a position to contribute a significant sum toward the scheme now but may not be able to do this in the future. In addition, the delivery team and supply chain are still in place, which means that efficiencies can be realised. There are indications that material prices are likely to rise in the future due to current demand. Maintaining the existing sea wall over the last ten years has cost the Council on average over £20,000 a year, and this cost is predicted to rise. Finally, a new sea wall incorporating a high-quality promenade, will attract further investment and act as a catalyst for the redevelopment of the Island site.
To accommodate this proposed higher sea defence level, most of the proposed options involve building the new defence further out to sea. This is as a result of the feedback from our first presentation and engagement with stakeholders on 25th February 2021, with invitations being sent out to over 100 businesses and organisations. Stakeholders preferred a buff coloured stepped revetment solution, with an exposed aggregate promenade and set back wall, rather like the new sea defence and promenade at Fairhaven and Granny’s Bay. Other options were considered and rejected, such as building a new vertical sea wall in front of the existing one. One of the reasons stakeholders preferred the stepped revetment solution was that they recognised that it is a popular highly used amenity beach, and it would be of benefit to have easier access and improved integration with it. The stepped revetment solution is also better hydraulically than a vertical sea wall, as it deflects the waves more efficiently, assisting in beach level build up rather than scouring sand away, and means the sea defence level can be slightly lower than would be the case with the vertical sea wall option.
To accommodate the 2m height increase and get back down to existing ground levels on the landward side, the new defence will have to extend out to sea. The limitation on this seaward projection has meant that it has been impossible to reinstate all the existing amenities on the landward side (beach huts, golf course and miniature railway), without building a long, 3m high set back wall, along the landward side. Not only is this expensive, and potentially visually intrusive, but it does not permit as much flexibility on the landward side to allow redevelopment of the Island Masterplan in future years.
A solution would be to build the new proposed stepped revetment further out to sea to incorporate all the amenities without any disturbance. Not only is this extremely expensive in terms of the volume of stone fill required, there are limits in terms of how far the new defence can extend out to sea. It would result in a loss of beach and habitat which is known as coastal squeeze. When the tide is near the sea wall, birds such as sanderlings, for example, who feed on marine worms and other invertebrates, have less space to feed on and rest in, which can adversely affect them.
At the second presentation given to stakeholders on 13th May 2021, these constraints and limitations were presented to them in the form of eight options, with a recommended option to build out towards the sea 7m from the toe of the existing sea defence, the landward side being formed with a simple grassed/vegetated slope. This distance seemed acceptable based on previous discussions with the EA and environmental groups, and was thought to be affordable, and would receive approval. The beach huts and the golf course are displaced/impacted during construction but fully reinstated, however the miniature railway could not be retained in its present position. The feedback from the stakeholders was they wished to retain all the amenities in some form, and that they would like to see a compromise solution, which is under active consideration.
Information on the preferred option was published on the Discover Fylde website to the wider public on Friday 14th May 2021 and resulted in an overwhelming response and interest in the proposals, so much so that the mailbox was temporarily closed on Monday 17th May 2021. Thank you to all those who have responded for their interest and input to date.
We have continued to engage and work with key stakeholders attending meetings with them during this time.
We are conscious that this is your scheme and your views are very important to us, so we are now relaunching the consultation. All the comments received previously along with any further responses will be analysed and fully considered in a report to be presented to members who will make the decision on the selection of the final preferred option.
Councillor Roger Small, Chair of the Operational Management Committee said: “I hope residents will take time to look at this exciting and innovative scheme which will form an integral part of the massive investment plans for St Annes.
I would also say to residents that we have listened to concerns regarding retaining some well-loved amenities and officers are looking at all possibilities to do so. Please rest assured that your views will be taken into consideration.”
We have provided updated information on the project on the Fylde Council website. This includes presentation material previously presented to stakeholders in February and May.We ask that you provide further feedback by submitting your responses to the following questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Do you support the proposal to replace the sea defences at The Island?
- What do you like about the proposal?
- What do you dislike about the proposal?
- Do you feel that there is anything that has been missed, not included or could be improved?
We would be grateful if you would provide any comments by midnight on Wednesday 9th June when we will consider all the feedback and take this into consideration in agreeing the final preferred option.
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