Backing for sea defences

The sea wall close to The Heugh Gun Battery
The sea wall close to The Heugh Gun Battery

COUNCILLORS have agreed plans to borrow £1.3m towards the £9m cost of a major sea defence scheme in Hartlepool.

Hartlepool Borough Council needs to strengthen defences at the Headland Walls and Block Sands because if no further works were carried out over the next 100 years, 562 commercial and residential properties would be at risk of erosion.

The funding plans were agreed at a meeting of full council inside the council chamber at the Civic Centre.

Engineers say the total cost of the work is £9.645m but the bulk of that, over £7m, is coming from the Environment Agency. Hartlepool council needs to put in £1.8m, £500,000 of which has already been set aside.

That leaves a total of £1.3m to be funded from prudential borrowing and full council agreed the plans.

A joint report from Chris Little, the chief finance officer, and Denise Ogden, the director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “The recommended scheme is estimated to cost £9.645m and grant funding of £7.120m is being secured from the Environment Agency to partly fund this work.

“The grant requires match funding of £2.525m and partner contributions of £725,000 have been secured to date, leaving a balance of £1.8m for the council to fund.

“£500,000 has previously been approved and set aside from other coastal protection budgets leaving £1.3m to be funded from prudential borrowing.

“The loan repayment costs will be funded from the coastal protection maintenance budget, on the basis that future maintenance costs should be substantially reduced once the scheme is complete.”

The council’s finance and policy committee had already backed the plans but final approval was needed from full council. Mrs Ogden has previously outlined the plan is to borrow £1.3m over 50 years and to pay it back at a rate of £62,000 a year from the maintenance budget, which should have less pressure on it in future if the work is carried out.

Engineers at Hartlepool council say the local authority is still in negotiations with Northumbrian Water to try and secure a contribution towards the work and bring the council’s contribution down.

The plans for the Headland Walls and Block Sands are still subject to planning permission.