'Ugly' sea wall will spoil Sidmouth's Esplanade view, business leaders tell council
PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:23 14 May 2018
Raising the sea wall to protect Sidmouth from flooding is ‘unlikely to be acceptable’ and would ‘irreparably damage’ the beauty of The Esplanade, according to the town’s chamber of commerce.
Business leaders have been reacting to proposals for the multi-million pound beach management scheme to increase the sea wall by perhaps 0.5 metres.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) and consultants Royal HaskoningDHV hope the £9million project will start next year and be completed in 2020.
The beach management plan stakeholder group was due to meet again as the Herald went to press yesterday (Thursday) to discuss the plans.
The scheme would also see shingle imported onto the beach and a new 120-metre groyne on East Beach. But the most controversial element is the proposed splash wall along The Esplanade. Comparisons have already been made with the unpopular sea defence in Seaton.
A Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce spokesman said: “An increase in the wall height of half a metre, 20 inches, would be unacceptable to the chamber. Nor, we think, will it be popular with Sidmouth’s residents, or with visitors to the town.
“The economic damage of the introduction of such a high wall is close to incalculable, but it will certainly run into millions of pounds. People come to Sidmouth to see the sea.
“The heritage of Sidmouth, and the beauty of its Esplanade will be irreparably damaged by this obtrusive introduction, which, we note, yet again, is unsupported by any evidence of need.”
In practice, the height of the wall is expected to vary depending upon the sea and beach conditions along its length.
Sara Hook, third generation owner of the Royal York and Faulkner Hotel, said: “It would be an ugly eyesore. It would spoil the view and make access to The Esplanade difficult.
“It isn’t going to stop the water. I’ve seen waves coming up way above that level many times.”
An EDDC spokeswoman said altering the wall could be used to improve access to the beach, adding: “Wall raising will be kept to a minimum to limit impacts on views. Further west, behind the breakwaters where less wave overtopping is predicted, we may be able to use a lower height, and we’d look at this as part of the next stage of detailed design.”