FLOOD defence work costing £1.5m aimed at protecting hundreds of homes at risk of flooding have been backed.
Engineers at Hartlepool Borough Council want to install a set-back flood defence wall on a 300ft stretch of the Town Wall, on the Headland, in a bid to defend against overtopping, erosion and flooding of the 230 properties classed as at risk.
The plans were first approved by the Environment Agency – which is funding the work – back in 2011 but officers have held further consultations with affected residents and made changes to the original plans including a new access ramp onto the Town Wall.
The council’s neighbourhood services committee unanimously backed the plans – which are still subject to planning approval - at a recent meeting chaired by Labour councillor Peter Jackson.
The set-back wall, which will measure just over 2ft, will be at the back of the existing footpath behind the existing Town Wall, with flood gates installed at both ends of the wall plus a shallow drainage culvert under the footpath with an outfall to the sea.
Studies have shown that currently 207 properties are at a very significant risk of flooding with a further 23 properties at significant risk and the measures are designed to protect houses and other buildings for another 100 years.
Officers said the total asset value the works would help protect was worth £11m. Alastair Smith, assistant director of neighbourhoods and Kieran Bostock, the council’s senior engineer outlined the proposals which have been subject to two rounds of consultation.
Mr Smith said consultation has been a high priority for the scheme which will cost a total of £1.5m, with £650,000 of that already spent on work to the groynes on the beach near the Town Wall, toe protection work and detailed designs cost.
If the planning committee agree the plans, the new wall will be clad to make it more “aesthetically pleasing” to the surrounding area.
Councillors on the neighbourhood services committee heard there had been two rounds of consultation, a Headland-wide one in December 2010 which had backing from 89 per cent of people who responded, while one carried out in December 2012 for those in the flood-risk area was backed by 82 per cent of residents.
Labour councillor Allan Barclay raised concerns about the impact on home insurance for those affected residents if the plans were not backed and said he would be supporting the proposals.
Putting Hartlepool First councillor Steve Gibbon said: “If we don’t do anything, then the question will be asked, if anything were to happen, why we didn’t do something when we had the funding.”
Council engineers told Coun Gibbon that the main concerns from those residents against the plans were around the visual impact.
Coun Jackson said: “The devastating flooding down south does not bear thinking about and we should take every step we can to protect our residents.”
The planning application is due to go before the planning committee in March and the scheme will also require scheduled monument consent from English Heritage.
Mr Smith added that the scheme would involve the construction of an opening through a section of the wall repaired by the Port Authority in the 1960’s and re-cladding work.
That work will need to be covered by a legal agreement with PD Ports.