Sidmouth ‘urgently’ needs to find £1.5million if the town is to be protected fully against flooding and erosion.
The message comes from East Devon District Council (EDDC) after environmental experts met to discuss Sidmouth’s coastal flood defence, and how to progress with protecting the town and slow down the rate of erosion on East Beach.
EDDC said costs for construction of the scheme are estimated at £8.9million, and when based on the economic analysis and the number of properties at risk of flooding in the town, means around £3.2 million of funding needs to be provided locally for the scheme to go ahead.
The council said a funding shortfall of around £1.5m ‘urgently’ needs to be filled if the preferred option for coastal flooding and erosion protection of Sidmouth can progress.
There is a year to find shortfall £1.5million. After August 2020, the council will submit an alternative plan, involving ‘only’ the town frontage, which will be costed and submitted for approval.
Cllr Geoff Jung, EDDC’s environment portfolio holder, said: “The protection of the seafront of Sidmouth is important not only to the town, but also to Devon and nationally, as it is recognised as a jewel of a seaside resort with many fine Regency and Victorian buildings.
“We at East Devon recognise that this scheme will protect the residents of this important town, as well as houses and commercial properties, and we will continue to work with the community and partners to complete this scheme.”
The council said the £1.5million shortfall, allowing the work to go ahead, could be met through a level of contributions secured by EDDC from other sources.
It said financial contributions could come from utilities companies, developer section-106 money, Cliff Road residents, East Devon’s housing service, council tax, Sidmouth Lifeboat and the Keith Owen Fund.
An ‘integrated scheme’ of protection across the entire frontage of Sidmouth has been identified as the preferred option.
The work involves beach replenishment, periodic beach recycling – moving sand or pebbles from the sea bed to the beach, a new rock groyne on East Beach, raising the height of the splash wall, and repairs to the river Sid training wall.
Further consultation of the splash wall height will be held, but it is expected the wall will need to be at one metre above the promenade to contain wave ‘overtopping’.
Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s representative on the Sidmouth Beach Management Scheme Steering Group, and cabinet member for highways management, said: “Whilst delighted that at long last there was almost unanimous consensus to move ahead with the preferred option around the table, there is still a lot more work to be done with design and funding sources to be identified and secured before submitting the scheme to secure the much-needed government finance.”
East Devon District Council said it has been ‘working hard’ to help fill the funding gap, committing £500,000 to the work.
EDDC said Devon County Council has indicated it could contribute £500,000 and Sidmouth Town Council £100,000.
Potential contributions from other sources are estimated at between £0.25-£1.25million, EDDC said.
The council plans to approach MPs, Sir Hugh Swire and Neil Parish, to ask for any financial assistance available to help plug the £1.5m funding gap.
Cllr Hughes said: “From a county council perspective, the indicated funding of up to £500,000 depends on the raising of the splash wall to maintain the highway asset and this is one aspect of the scheme that local residents can play an important part in designing.”
An EDDC spokeswoman said: “Partnership funding for the beach management scheme is a critical element in accessing government grants and needs to be in place before the council can submit its final outline business case, which will include detailed surveys, investigations and wave modelling, together with costings and funding confirmation, for approval by the Environment Agency.”
“The draft outline business case has already been prepared, but needs full funding information before it can be submitted.
“A deadline of August 2020 was agreed by the steering group in which to source the outstanding finance, after which time an alternative plan, involving only the town frontage, would be worked up and submitted for funding approval.
“A finance sub-group will be reconvened to look at how funds could be raised.”
- Present value design and construction costs: £8.9m
- Present value post construction costs (maintenance): £4.7m
- Present value total scheme cost: £13.6m
- Environment Agency partnership funding score: 59 per cent
- Flood defence grant in aid: £5.7m
- East Devon contributions required: £3.2m