Council leader keen to see amphitheatre-style steps as part of sea defences project

Emergency repairs on Southsea promenade following recent damage Picture: Julian Lloyd
Emergency repairs on Southsea promenade following recent damage Picture: Julian Lloyd
Mike Taylor, operations director at Society of St James with the leader of Portsmouth City Council Donna Jones.

Picture: Sarah Standing (170729-3206)

New owners of Victoria Park cafe handed the keys

  • Design for new sea defences is inspired by defences in Blackpool
  • Council leader says work will start on Southsea beach within 12 to 18 months
  • It comes as emergency work continues on promenade and sea wall which collapsed on Boxing Day
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Blackpool should be the inspiration for new sea defences in Southsea.

That’s the call from Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones as emergency repairs continue on the promenade following recent damage.

Cllr Jones wants to emulate the amphitheatre-type steps in the Lancashire town, which doubles up as seating, when work on Southsea’s sea defences gets under way.

The £117m project will offer protection to thousands of houses and businesses along the two-and-a-half mile stretch of shoreline.

But it is still only in the early stages and work will not start for another 12 to 18 months.

Cllr Jones said: ‘The sea defences in Blackpool are what we are moving towards for our final design.

‘We did look at different options when we held the consultations last year and that is the one people liked.

‘It has steps down to the beach which, during events like the America’s Cup and other races on the Solent, can be used as spectator seating when the tide is out.

‘It will also give us the opportunity to build cycle ways separate to pedestrian pathways.’

The Tory councillor added: ‘This is a very big project and it has taken us a year to get to the stage we are at now.

The sea defences in Blackpool

The sea defences in Blackpool

‘Once a project costs more than £100m there are more bureaucratic steps which need to be followed.

‘We knew the sea wall needed replacing when we took over from the last administration and started working on plans straight away.’

As previously reported in The News, part of the promenade and sea defences collapsed on Boxing Day due to Storm Frank. Emergency work has been carried out in the past two days to make the beach and pathway safe. It still remains fenced off.

Leftover small and medium granite rocks, used for the sea defences near Anchorage Park and the northern end of Eastern Road, have been used to fill the hole in the promenade. It was expected to be completed by today.

The sea defences in Blackpool are what we are moving towards for our final design.

Cllr Donna Jones

But Cllr Jones said the small rocks cannot be used for the beach side of the wall and larger rocks from a quarry in Cornwall will have to be used.

‘Early next week we are expecting a delivery from Cornwall of larger rocks,’ she said.

‘When the tide is out, starting at the water level the rocks will be placed and propped up against the sea wall.’

The emergency work is expected to cost around £300,000, but Cllr Jones said the council was speaking to the Environment Agency to help with funding as soon as possible.