Campaigners fear multimillion-pound sea defences could 'destroy' Langstone's heritage

CAMPAIGNERS have united to oppose plans for sea defences that would protect more than 100 homes and businesses in their village – branding the designs ‘environmental vandalism’.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 1:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 10:06 am
Langstone residents Andy Lewis, Mark Effenberg, Ann Griffiths and Peter Oliver, who have joined the Save Our Shore campaign. They're in front of the Royal Oak pub, which backs on to the Old Mill, which is left out of the scheme. Picture: Sarah Standing (060120-3639)

Members of the new pressure group, Save Our Shore, fear centuries of Langstone’s heritage could be ‘destroyed’ if plans they have deemed ‘unacceptable’ move forward.

They include a boardwalk around Langstone village and flip-up and glass-topped flood walls around the Ship Inn pub, with a stone wall protecting the Royal Oak pub from the shoreline.

Historian Ann Griffiths, who has lived in Langstone for 50 years, said the project was being mooted ‘far too early’ and left out key sites.

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A before and after photo of how the Royal Oak pub in Langstone could look after sea defences are put in place. The picture was created by the Save Our Shore campaign group, who fear Langstone's history could be damaged by the scheme.

‘If you put a 4ft wall in front of the Royal Oak it’ll destroy the character of the village because it will create a barrier between us and the sea,’ she said.

‘At the moment we accommodate the sea using flood boards and other protective measures – there’s a great interplay between the pub and the shoreline – and we've been alright so far.’

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Peter Oliver, of Langstone High Street, believes a harbour breakwater to protect the coastline would be a better solution.

The 85-year-old, who has lived in Langstone for 50 years, said: ‘It's the only place you can defend against the sea.

‘At the moment this is being treated as a flood area, not a marine area, and this 4ft wall would not provide a proper solution.

‘This quay already floods, normally as much as 2ft, and if you’re planning ahead for the next 100 years there’s an anticipated one metre rise in sea levels. A foldable wall won’t cut it and it’s unsound to only consider the present shoreline.’

Resident Mark Effenberg, 53, said the plans were not ‘aesthetic’ and criticised the scheme’s bosses for ignoring residents' views.

Project leaders Havant Borough Council and the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership held two public engagement sessions for the scheme in November, 2018.

The council said the current defence options had been arrived at using technical guidance and reflected community views ‘where possible’.

Councillor Leah Turner, the authority’s cabinet lead for finance and coastal communities, said: ‘We are working hard to ensure that homes, businesses and our coastal areas are protected for future generations.

‘We have been working closely, through consultation, to identify and agree a technically, environmentally acceptable, sustainable and affordable solution for everyone.

‘If this cannot be reached the responsibility will continue to remain with the landowners and residents for them to ensure their properties are adapted for climate change and the increasing risk of flooding.’

Options for the defences will go on public display at Langstone Sailing Club on Wednesday, between 1pm and 7pm, and on Thursday at the Ship Inn, between 11am and 4pm.