WORK to protect more than 8,000 homes in Portsmouth from rising sea levels is a step closer to getting started as plans almost 10 years in the making have been submitted.
Following eight years of planning and four public consultations, designs for the Southsea Coastal Scheme have been put forward for approval - with work on some areas potentially starting next year.
The mammoth project, which is expected to cost more than £100m, will see new defences built along two miles of the city's southern coastline from Long Curtain Moat in Old Portsmouth to Canoe Lake in Southsea.
Public engagement has been a part of the scheme since 2014 when residents were first asked for their feedback. The most recent consultations were held in 2018 and attended by around 1,700 people.
Councillor Dave Ashmore, Portsmouth City Council's environment boss, explained how important public feedback had been. 'The amount of proactive engagement with the public throughout the entire scheme has been fantastic,' he said.
'I've enjoyed talking to various Portsmouth residents at these events to understand how they use the seafront and which elements are important to them.
'We've taken this on board and now have a design which has been shaped together with the public.'
Areas that drew the most feedback from the public included along Southsea Common and Canoe Lake Park where options to completely pedestrianise had been suggested. In both cases residents asked to retain the roads, although in the latest design, Southsea Common will have a one-way road running alongside it.
Designs for the beach by South Parade Pier also proved contentious as residents were concerned a new defence wall would result in the loss of sea views. The altered plan seeks to raise the promenade by 0.5m rather than building a wall.
As part of standard planning process a period of statutory public consultation began with the application of the plans.
Members of the public can view the application, supporting documents and comment on Portsmouth City Council's website. Plans can also be viewed at the Civic Offices in Guildhall Square.
Comments can be made online, in writing to the Civic Offices, or emailed to email@example.com.
If plans are approved construction on the first section of defences at Long Curtain Moat will begin in 2020.
Plans for the scheme have been submitted under one large application, as well as separate ones for all listed buildings, lampposts and monuments.
They can be found on the council's website by using the following codes:
Main planning application - 19/01097/FUL
Listed building consent: South Parade Pier - 19/01129/LBC
Shelters - 19/01090/LBC
War memorial - 19/01091/LBC
Lampposts - 19/01089/LBC
Monuments - 19/01088/LBC
History of sea defences
2011 - The Portsea Island Coastal Strategy is approved. The strategy helps to decide how the coastline surrounding Portsea Island will be managed for the next 100 years. It concludes that a 'hold the line' policy for Portsea Island is imperative in order to protect the population of the city and its infrastructure from the risk of flooding from the sea.
Winter 2014 - A consultation on the shortlist of coastal defence options being proposed for Southsea runs for eight weeks, from November 3 to the December 29. Almost 500 people attend the events.
Autumn 2016 - The public's preferred option of a sloped primary defence, secondary defence set back from the promenade and beach management, is submitted to central government as part of an outline business case to unlock £5.9m of funding to develop the designs for new flood defences.
Summer 2017 - Central government approves the outline business case along with £5.9m worth of funding.
Autumn 2017 - Almost 700 people attend a series of engagement events to find out the story behind why the work needed to be carried out and to give early feedback.
Early 2018 - Feedback from public events, along with advice from statutory stakeholders, is used to create a principal design.
Summer 2018 - Further public consultation events and workshops are held regarding the principal design proposals for each area of the Southsea coast. These events are attended by more than 1,700 people.
Autumn 2018 - The principal design is adapted to take on board preferences to maintain the roads and to minimise the defence heights around South Parade Pier and maintain the beach.
February 2019 - Further public engagement events were held across Portsmouth to show the changes to the designs based on feedback from the public.
May 2019 - Public information events are held to address some key themes raised by the public at the February consultation and outline the designs going forward for planning approval.
July 2019 - Planning applications for the scheme are submitted.
October 2019 - A full business case will be submitted to unlock funding from central government to build the scheme.