The Environment Agency has agreed to part-fund a new £3million flood defence wall that will change the face of West Kirby promenade forever.
The aim is to build a 1.1km wall right along South Parade to protect homes and businesses from rising sea levels and the growing number of tidal surge flooding episodes.
The project will be funded by a £1.7m grant from the Environment Agency, a £500,000 Local Levy and £900,000 of Council Capital funding.
Cllr Phillip Brightmore, Wirral Council’s Cabinet member for Environment, said: “Our location as a peninsula inevitably means we are at more risk of flooding than many areas and our responsibility to protect residents, businesses and the local environment from that risk is one we take very seriously.
“The proposal to construct a brand new floodwall that will run the length of the promenade at West Kirby is something we have been developing closely with local people for a number of years and we made a strong case that had a lot of support from within the community.
“We are delighted that the key issue of funding has now been secured and this plan can now move forward and we can put the protection in place that is needed in this location.”
South Parade has frequently suffered significant tidal surge flooding over the last 25 years, and the road has been closed as a result 25 times between March 2004 and December 2014. Climate change and rising sea levels are expected to make matters worse in years to come.
By today’s estimate, up 70 homes and 23 businesses in West Kirby that have a 0.5% chance of flooding in any year will be protected by the new floodwall. Over the next 100 years as climate change continues to cause sea levels to rise, the new floodwall will reduce flood risk to 567 homes and 104 businesses, effectively safeguarding West Kirby town centre from flooding from the sea.
Cllr Brightmore added: “We will soon be inviting submissions from specialists to work with the Council and the local community in developing the detailed design for the scheme ahead of submission for Planning Approval.
“We don’t take the public support for this project for granted and we will certainly be continuing to involve local people further as we move forward. We hope that if all goes to plan, we could be looking at construction starting towards the end of this year.”
A public consultation process with West Kirby residents took place in October 2015 looking at the option of building a wall, which will run along the side of the pavement roughly on the line of the current street lights and benches, for 1.1 kilometres along South Parade. This would mean pedestrians would be separated from the road by the wall.
That plan included 15 pedestrian gates in the wall and four for vehicles, which could be closed off when there is a risk of flooding. The pavement on the promenade would be completely resurfaced as part of the project, to make it more durable to sea water. The seating on the promenade would be restored and some limited landscaping features were also proposed.
At the time concerns were raised that the wall would block the view. However, it was suggested that some sections of the wall could be made of clear glass panels, allowing people to see through.