£1.3m Headland sea defences plans backed

The Town Wall

The Town Wall

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COUNCILLORS have unanimously backed plans to further bolster sea defences in an historic part of Hartlepool.

The toe of the Town Wall, on the Headland, will be strengthened as part of wider £1.3m Environment Agency plans to prevent flooding.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee gave their full backing to the plans and the 12-week scheme of work is expected to start soon.

The work needs to be completed by the end of September so as not to disturb the winter birds.

It will see high-strength concrete installed along a 570ft stretch of the Town Wall, which is in the town’s conservation area, in order to strengthen its foundations.

Councillors queried whether concrete was the best material to use after concerns were raised by some residents.

But council engineers said they had been in regular contact with English Heritage to ensure the proposed works were in line with the nature of the historic structure.

Labour councillor Jim Ainslie, a Headland resident, said: “I have no objection to what is being proposed.”

He added that the council had heavily consulted with residents about the Town Wall over the past five years and he just wanted to see the work done “as soon as possible”.

Group leader of Putting Hartlepool First, councillor Geoff Lilley, said: “Hopefully this will guarantee that the wall is secure.

“We should see some significant protection for that part of the Headland.”

Independent councillor Paul Thompson added: “This is about protecting the Headland from long-term erosion.”

Responding to questions from independent councillor Keith Fisher, engineers said the Town Wall was not in imminent danger, but it is in a poor state and work needed doing to prevent future damage.

The committee was told the compound for the work will be at Kafiga Landings.

The plans are part of a wider £1.3m Environment Agency-funded scheme which will include strengthening the toe, improving the drainage and restoring the beach groynes, which catch materials on the beach.

Planning permission to restore and re-establish three groynes to the front of the Town Wall have already been approved and work is expected to start this summer.

The sea defence scheme could also see a secondary 2ft-high set back wall built next to the footpath along a 300ft stretch of the Town Wall.

That controversial aspect of the plans were first aired at a public meeting in November, attended by about 100 people.

Consultants said the secondary wall would prevent the overtopping waves coming over the existing parapet wall, crashing onto the footpath and running down the street.

But speaking at the time, residents said by creating a “tunnel” it will funnel the water down towards houses to the west of the wall.

Officers are still working on that aspect of the proposals.