First look at the latest design for Southsea’s planned sea defences

PROJECT leaders are 'confident' an extra £15m needed for the Southsea sea defences will be found and that the final construction will be 'world class.'

By Fiona Callingham
Saturday, 9th February 2019, 8:51 am
Updated Monday, 11th February 2019, 10:11 am
New designs for the sea defences at South Parade Pier
New designs for the sea defences at South Parade Pier

Following consultations last year that asked for residents' feedback, new designs and budgets for the seafront have been drawn up.

Currently a total cost for the scheme, including construction, fees, design and compensation, sits at around £120m with between £85m-£100m pledged by the Environment Agency and a further £6m set aside by Portsmouth City Council.

This leaves a predicted shortfall of around £15m.

But the council's environment boss, Councillor Dave Ashmore, believed other funding sources could be found. He said: 'In other areas of the country, local enterprise partnerships have made significant contributions to major flood defence projects similar to ours, so we will be working closely with the Solent LEP to secure funding for this vital scheme.

'We are also looking at other sources, such as the new National Lottery Heritage Fund.'

For the council's deputy leader, Cllr Steve Pitt, securing all the cash was a necessity. He said: 'We always knew there would be a funding gap that we would need to close. We cannot protect the seafront with anything other than with the best defences.

'If we don't fight for the very best scheme then the money won't be there to protect the heritage assets like the castle and Long Curtain Moat. Every member of the council and the public have told us how important it is to protect those.

'We do have what we think is a first class scheme.'

Some areas of the project, which spans Long Curtain Moat to Eastney, are likely to be very different from proposed designs that were revealed last year, to incorporate public consensus.

Similarly projections around budget evolved with original construction costs set at around £59m, compared to a current budget of circa £95m.

Zane Gunton, project manager for the Southsea Coastal Scheme, explained why this was. 'The costs for construction presented in the outline business case, that was put together three years ago, were based on our knowledge of the design at the time,' he said.

'We have now come a long way from there, taking on board both the public's feedback, very poor ground conditions and other technical issues we've found.

'For example, the ground conditions at Southsea Castle mean we need deeper piles to stabilise the ground which will ensure the job is done properly. There are also construction industry costs increases and inflation to take into account.'

It is thought that future costs, such as maintenance for the next 100 years and building the defences at Eastney, will amount to around £30m.

A planning application for the defences will be submitted around April.

More information will be available to the public at consultation events starting on February 14.