Sidmouth beach plan could protect bridge

A SURPRISE new beach management plan for Sidmouth is being prepared by district council bosses in a bid to protect Pennington Point, Alma Bridge, and sea flood defences.

The news comes as a group of residents wait for the authority to decide the fate of their home-grown proposals to slow rapid erosion of the town’s eastern cliffs - which cost them �10,000 to put together.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) this week revealed it’s working on a beach management scheme for the whole of Sidmouth seafront.

The project could result in the council proposing a rock groyne be installed off Pennington Point, according to a Natural England expert.

Cliff Road residents, whose gardens are receding by 13 feet a year, submitted their own planning application for a 240-metre granite retaining wall at the crumbling spot in April.

A decision on whether to approve or reject plans is expected from EDDC’s development management committee in November or December.

Residents’ proposals have failed to win the backing of Natural England (NE), despite netting public support.

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Amanda Newsome, NE’s land use advisor for East Devon, told Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce members on Wednesday: “The Environment Agency (EA) has encouraged the district council to submit an application for a beach management plan for the whole of the sea-front.

“We’re working with them on measures that could afford some protection to the river wall and Alma Bridge.

“The district council is working on a proposal for a small rock groyne at Pennington Point.

“We’ve objected to the current application by residents. We’re still working with the council and EA to come up with a solution.

“It won’t offer protection to gardens at the top of the cliff and won’t stop erosion. It will offer protection to the river wall and Alma Bridge.”

An EDDC spokesman said: “We can confirm that we’ve been in talks with Natural England and the EA with regard to putting together a beach management plan for Sidmouth.

“The details of what might result from a successful application have still to be finalised. Any scheme would be subject to a successful bid for funding.”