Tuesday, 14 December 2010

£2 Million Pounds at risk of being lost!

Hartlepool Borough Council, with funding from the Environment Agency, is carrying out a study to develop a scheme to improve the existing coastal protection provided by the Town Wall. The Town Wall provides protection from coastal erosion and coastal flooding to the highway, residential and business properties behind the wall, but is itself at risk of significant damage due to coastal erosion.

The first stage of the study was to determine the existing condition of the wall, and the ability of the wall to withstand future storms. The results of this first stage of the study were presented in a public consultation event held in the Borough Hall in July 2009.

The second stage of the study looked at a range of options to deal with the risk of flooding and coastal erosion at the Town Wall. Each option was evaluated on the basis of the storm protection provided, the environmental (including historic nature of the wall) and visual impacts and cost. As a result of this option appraisal process a preferred option was then selected.

A consultation event was held on 24th August 2010 in the Borough Hall to provide local residents and other interested parties with information regarding how the preferred option for the scheme was selected and to obtain feedback from local residents with regard to the acceptability of the preferred solution.

Over 200 invitations to the consultation event were sent to interested parties by post, and 300 invitations were distributed by hand to local residents in the area considered to be at risk from flooding in the future. These invitations were supported by press releases and public notices.

Only twenty-five members of the public attended the consultation event. Those attending were asked to complete feedback forms to enable Hartlepool Borough Council to gauge the level of support for the proposed solution, and seventeen forms were returned. Of the seventeen members of the public who returned the forms, eight were broadly in favour of the preferred solution, while nine were not in favour of the preferred solution.

A description of the proposed solution and timetable for future events is attached for your information. This solution was selected as the most advantageous scheme and has the highest chance of receiving funding from the Government. There are other possible solutions but analysis has shown that it is extremely unlikely that they would be funded. Copies of the presentation and posters provided at the August 2010 consultation event can be downloaded from www.hartlepoolcoastal.com/townwallfeedback.aspx or viewed at Bryan Hanson House.

The benefits of the scheme are that erosion / deterioration of the wall is dealt with in a manner acceptable to English Heritage and the standard of flood protection to the properties is significantly increased. This will secure the future for residential and business properties in the current flood risk zone.

The limited feedback from the consultation event shows a fairly even balance between support for and opposition to, the proposed solution. Unless further support for the scheme can be demonstrated from the local community, there is a real danger that the £2m funds currently allocated to the construction works will be redistributed nationally and the opportunity to implement improvement works lost.

In order to determine whether further support for the scheme exists within the local community, the Council are therefore asking the residents of the Headland to complete the Feedback Form by the 31st December 2010.

The Town Wall is an important part of the history of Hartlepool, particularly the Headland area and plays a key role in the every day lives of the residents of the Headland. It is therefore essential that the Council are able to gauge local opinion with regard to any decisions relating to the future of the Town Wall and that local views are expressed and taken into consideration in the decision making process. We would therefore urge you to complete the Feedback Form.

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