Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth City Council approves Southsea sea defence scheme

Artist's impression of widened beach and other defences at Southsea Common Image copyright Portsmouth City Council
Image caption The designs include widening the beach at Southsea Common

A £131m scheme to bolster a city's sea defences has been conditionally approved by councillors.

The project includes building walls, raising land and widening beaches along a 4.5km (2.8 mile) stretch of coastline in Southsea, Hampshire.

Portsmouth City Council planning officer Alan Banting said some defences were in a critical condition, creating a "significant risk to life".

The council hopes to finish construction in 2026.

Image copyright Jon Neil
Image caption A 30m length of sea-wall in Southsea collapsed in December 2015

Mr Banting told a meeting of councillors there had been three serious coastal defence breaches in the last six years.

He said these included a "critical failure" of part of the sea wall next to the Pyramids Centre in December 2015.

An extreme flood event, raising the water level by 4m (13 feet), would affect more than 8,000 homes and 700 businesses, he added.

Image copyright Portsmouth City Council
Image caption A new sea wall at Long Curtain Moat would "substantially harm" the appearance of a scheduled monument, councillors were told

Protest group Southsea Seafront Campaign previously objected to plans for a "concrete rampart, mostly replacing the beach", along the length of the scheme.

The council's revised project includes reduced defence heights and the use of widened beaches, which will require future maintenance.

A new wall in front of a scheduled monument at Long Curtain Moat would create "substantial harm" to its appearance but this would be outweighed by the public benefit, Mr Banting said.

Clarence Pier would not be protected by the scheme because no feasible solution could be found, the meeting was told.

The council said it had bid for £107m of government funding, of which £82m had already been approved.

The first phase of work, at Long Curtain Moat, is due to start in the spring of 2020.

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