Controversial 1.1km flood wall given green light in Wirral - here’s what it will look like

There have been a series of flood events in West Kirby but critics wanted councillors to pursue other options.

<p>South Parade flood barrier, West Kirby. Image: Planning Documents</p>

South Parade flood barrier, West Kirby. Image: Planning Documents

A controversial new flood defence scheme for West Kirby has been given the go-ahead by Wirral Council’s planning committee.

The project involves building a 1.2m high, 1.1km curved barrier along South Parade which critics say will “destroy” the character of the waterfront.

Since December 2013 there have been more than 20 flood events at West Kirby, with four considered significant, and it is widely accepted that the area needs a system of defence.

However, an online petition entitled ‘Save West Kirby Promenade’ had garnered more than 1,100 signatures in opposition to the plans to build a “precast concrete wall” and urged councillors to pursue other flood alleviation options.

One of the proposed gateways in the wall, with Viking inscription. Image: Planning documents.

Planning consent for the scheme is now in place after Wirral Council’s planning committee voted five to two in favour. Work is anticipated to start in February 2022 and last until October 2022.

Advertisement

The barrier wall has been designed to resemble a wave with a continuous curve containing seating, memorial or celebratory plaques, access points and crossing spaces.

Details of the flood defence scheme

The project, which has been nearly six years in planning, will involve the construction of a 1.1 km long curved wall along South Parade, between the junctions with Sandy Lane and Riversdale Road.

At 1.2m high, the wall will act as a barrier separating South Parade and properties situated on it from potentially damaging flood waters, which Council and Environment Agency officers confirmed were becoming an increasingly likely occurrence as a result of climate change and other natural phenomena.

A map of the location of the flood barrier. Image: Planning documents

The construction timeframe of February 2022 to October 2022 is in line with the recommendations of a Habitat Regulations Assessment carried out as part of the planning process and will minimise disruption to migrating birds and other wildlife that are present at times at West Kirby.

Advertisement

During the work, temporary road and footpath closures would be put in place for short sections of South Parade at a time, with access for residents only.

The scheme also includes upgrades to public spaces , such as a new paving and highway on South Parade, refurbishment of the Old Baths and the introduction of a dedicated cycle lane.

Why is it needed?

Since December 2013 there have been more than 20 flood events at West Kirby, with four considered significant. With sea levels rising, the issue is only going to get worse.

The council says a number of different options were considered but the concept of a barrier adjacent to the highway was identified as the preferred option as it met national environmental, technical and financial criteria for grant aid funding from the Environment Agency.

The council say the scheme will protect 70 properties at risk of flooding now from extreme tidal events and give more than 500 properties improved protection over the next century as sea levels rise.

Advertisement

Where is the funding coming from?

The cost is being covered by a £2.2 million flood defence grant, a £1 million contribution from other central Government funding streams and the balance from Wirral Council’s capital programme for infrastructure projects.

The overall cost of the wall is currently estimated to be £6 million.

Consultation with local residents

An initial consultation took place in 2015 and again in 2019, following confirmation of Environment Agency funding.

Changes made to the initial proposal as a result of public opinion included a continuous curved seat rather than the original vertical straight structure and a circular trail around the promenade and lake, with distance markers counting up and down every 100m.

Advertisement

Refurbishment of the Old Baths site will create a new 1500m² events space.