West Kirby residents have started a petition to request that Wirral Council rethink plans for the upgrading of flood defences at West Kirby Promenade.
The ‘Save the Prom’ campaign was started because the petitioner says that the “Council proposes to build a 1.2m high 1.15km precast concrete wall along the length of West Kirby promenade.
“This will reduce the width of the promenade walkway by one third, block coastal views and destroy the open character and heritage of this very special place.”
A West Kirby resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told birkenhead.news, “It’s a great place to spend time and enjoy fresh air and it’s great to see thousands of other residents and visitors enjoying it too.”
But the resident is worried because the plans will mean that the width of the promenade walkway will reduce by one-third from 6.5m to about 4.2m and sea views will be blocked.
The resident went on to say, “The problem is that the proposed wall will be 1.2m high, which is taller than most children.
“A lot of people enjoy the view from seats by Victoria Gardens, Coronation Park but the views will now be blocked.
“A lot of less able and older people just come to sit and enjoy views from their cars and the height of the wall will block any views from parked cars.”
Cllr Liz Grey, Chair of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee told birkenhead.news, “This scheme has been through a very long planning stage and local councillors and residents have been engaged and have contributed throughout.
“The design has been changed and has included suggestions from these consultations. This is very much a collective scheme for and with local people.
“I believe that it is a small, but vocal minority who are trying to politicise this and who are wilfully jeopardising the safety of local people, businesses and properties in ignoring the very real and increasing danger of extreme flooding events now and in the future as sea levels continue to rise and our weather becomes more hostile due to climate change.
“All planning has been based on clear scientific data and is supported by the Environment Agency. I just cannot understand why anyone would want to reject the money that has been offered to us to defend people from catastrophic flooding in the not too distant future.
“In line with United Nations and our own Government guidelines, we have to do all we can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but we also have a duty to do what we can to adapt to the changes which are now unavoidable. Sea levels will rise. Flooding events will get worse. The people of West Kirby must be protected.
“Personally, I think that it is a significant achievement to manage to offer such protection while also providing excellent quality design and what I believe will enhance the visitor experience at West Kirby.
“We are actually very fortunate to have secured so much funding for this as the money available for such schemes is very limited and the number of places bidding for it is growing as the climate emergency unfolds.
“We already have coastal communities not far from here that have been told to be ready to evacuate in the next few decades as it is considered too expensive to try and defend them from future seal level rises. Let’s invest in West Kirby and celebrate its long and prosperous future while can.”
The planning application states that, “The Proposed Development consists of the construction of a new linear secondary defence wall, set back along the edge of the South Parade promenade in West Kirby which will offer a high standard of protection to local residential and commercial properties.”
The West Kirby resident believes that there are alternatives to the council’s plans. “There are lots of variations and other options. The Council has undertaken their own appraisal of options and chose the wall.
“But I think this appraisal is flawed, the Council do not give sufficient weight to the special character and heritage of the promenade. This scheme was also appraised at £3m cost (Council stated) but the council are now quoting £6m.
“We appreciate that Wirral Council is taking action on improving Wirral’s flood defences, but we think that they are pursuing the wrong solution to the problem.”
“The most obvious alternative is to use and strengthen existing structures such as walls and areas of raised ground. Some of these are privately owned but undoubtedly owners would co-operate to protect their properties.
“Some residents on South Parade and on the corner of Albert Road have removed front walls and gardens that previously offered flood protection that has always happened – they have done to create driveways and lower ground rooms – they need to reinstate front walls and gardens that were there for a reason.”
The planning application can be viewed on the Wirral Council website here.
The petition can be found here.
Main image credit: Wirral Council/AECOM