Seafront road may be removed in aid of coast defences

Sand dunes similar to those that Walter Menteth and his supporters want to see installed as part of 'soft' sea defences in Southsea
Sand dunes similar to those that Walter Menteth and his supporters want to see installed as part of 'soft' sea defences in Southsea

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A MAJOR seafront road could be removed in places as part of ambitious plans for the city’s sea defences.

Clarence Esplanade – the road that runs along the Southsea seafront – could be ditched in favour of a wider promenade.

Lyall Cairns, head of the Eastern Solent Coastal Parternship – the group that is behind the £99.4m project to protect 8,077 homes from flooding – made the revelation at a meeting.

Addressing the East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum on the much-discussed scheme, he said: ‘What we want to get is a great-looking scheme that is all about regeneration of the seafront.

‘We need to think radical and ambitious with the proposals and that could involve removing the road, giving us a wider promenade.’

Mr Cairns said that removing the road could free up space to better incorporate the defences into the existing seafront.

He added that all businesses along the seafront would be consulted as part of the design process.

The scheme is currently in its infancy though the ESCP has concluded that it will involve a primary sloping revetment and a secondary set back defence.

It was recently awarded £5.8m in design funding from the Environment Agency with initial proposals to be unveiled next spring.

The idea to remove parts of the esplanade was welcomed by University of Portsmouth visiting lecturer Walter Menteth, who has produced an alternative design for the scheme.

Mr Menteth said: ‘It is a great pleasure to hear that the ESCP are considering the removal of the main road to make way for the defences.

His hope for a soft-engineering option for the defences and a dune-esque look to Southsea Common has been knocked back by the ESCP.

The proposals – which included the option of moving the War Memorial – were criticised by councillors during Tuesday’s full council where it was 
unanimously decided to oppose the scheme.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, previously wrote to the government to call for a halt on the design funding due to concerns that a soft-engineering proposal was not being explored.

He explained in the chamber that he had been given commitments from the ESCP that both hard and soft-engineering options were being looked at.