With ground works almost complete, the first sections of the new flood defence wall along West Kirby promenade are now in place in the first phase of the work.
This represents a significant milestone for the project and will see parts of South Parade gradually reopening fully to traffic and pedestrians as each phase of construction of the wall concludes.
By early January, the aim is to have the wall in place along more than half of the promenade – four of the eight distinct ‘areas’ identified in the project plan, covering the stretch from Riversdale Road to Church Road. The whole scheme, which includes highways improvements and other associated benefits, is scheduled to be completed in the first part of 2023.
The new 1.1km long, 1.2m high, curved wall is designed to act as a barrier protecting South Parade and properties situated on it – as well as neighbouring streets and beyond – from potentially damaging flood waters, which are an increasingly likely occurrence because rising sea levels and storms as a result of climate change
The design of wall itself was finalised after consultation with residents and will resemble a ‘wave’ with a continuous curve containing seating, memorial or celebratory plaques – including replicas of those previously in place on the promenade. Timber slats will be added to the seating towards the end of the contract.
There will be gated access points providing pedestrian crossing points and car parking spaces will be re-provided. The scheme also includes an upgraded public realm, including new paving and highway resurfacing along South Parade. The two Victorian shelters which were removed to accommodate the building of the wall will be replicated as part of the completed scheme, with the aim of using materials from the original structures where possible.
A refurbishment of the site of Old Baths opposite Hilbre Court, near to the RNLI lifeboat station, will allow for the creation of a new public performance and exhibition space and provide a new attraction on the promenade for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.
A new dedicated cycle lane will be created too, while the outdated street lighting network along South Parade, that was becoming increasingly unreliable, will be upgraded with new LED lighting columns being installed.
Cllr Liz Grey, Chair of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee for Wirral Council, said: “This is an important phase of the flood alleviation scheme as it gives a glimpse of what the finished article will look like and shows people living in the area – and those who visit regularly – that the project is nearing the finishing straight. People have been incredibly patient and understanding since work started in June and I hope they will be happy with the outcome when the works finish next year.
“Whilst this is a flood prevention scheme first and foremost, officers and the specialists who have supported the council and Environment Agency in the development and delivery of the plans have been mindful that the end result also needed to bring additional improvements to – and blend in with – the existing promenade and this is what is happening. It is exciting to see it taking shape.”
The company contracted by the council to deliver the Flood Alleviation Scheme at West Kirby has recently had their work on the project inspected by an independent assessor.
The Considerate Constructor Scheme sent an inspector to West Kirby to look at how effective VolkerStevin Ltd were in three distinct areas – care for the environment, respect for the community and how much their workforce were valued.
The assessment found VolkerStevin to be ‘excellent’ in all three areas, scoring 14 out of 15 for respecting the community and valuing their workforce, and 13 on their care for the environment. The total score of 41 out of 45 is outstanding and means that the contractor is far exceeding the baseline requirements for compliance with the Considerate Constructor Scheme.
The report summarised the assessment by saying: “The site was excellent with good, controlled access and parking which, along with a modern energy efficient site set up, gave an very good first impression. Along with some excellent initiatives, there were a number of areas discussed that presented some opportunity for improvement. My thanks to Marc and his team for their time, hospitality and clear commitment to the aims of the scheme.”
Open for business
The range of attractions, restaurants, cafes and bars in West Kirby can be enjoyed all-year round. Ward members are working closely with traders to ensure that residents and visitors know that West Kirby remains open for business.
The flood alleviation project has meant a reduced number of public car parking spaces in the town, particularly near the promenade. Not only has parking been suspended along South Parade, the nearest public car park at Dee Lane has also been closed to allow it to be used as the works’ compound.
- Car parking for residents impacted by the reduced number of spaces has been made available at the Marine Lake Sailing Centre car park.
- Additional parking will be available for people in West Kirby at West Kirby Sailing Centre Mon-Fri, 08:30 to 17:30. The 2 hour short term car parking is free and will run from Monday 28 November into January. This temporary change is to provide additional parking to West Kirby during the installation of the new flood wall and public realm improvements.
- Members of the public have been urged to use the large car park at the back of West Kirby Concourse as an alternative.
- West Kirby is well served by public transport and is at the end of a Merseyrail line connecting the town directly to Birkenhead and Liverpool and via one change to all stations to Chester, Ellesmere Port, Wrexham, Southport, Ormskirk, Liverpool Airport (via Liverpool South Parkway) and Hunts Cross.
- A single connection at Liverpool Lime Street links West Kirby to the wider national rail network.
- Between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Saturday, trains run every 15 minutes on the West Kirby line, and every half hour at other times, including Sundays.
- For additional car parking facilities, ample park and ride spaces are available at Birkenhead North and Bidston Merseyrail stations, both situated on the direct line to West Kirby. Bidston station is conveniently situated close to junction 1 of the M53.
Bus routes to West Kirby include:-
- # 437 / 407: Liverpool to West Kirby – via Birkenhead, Upton, Greasby and Frankby
- # 22: Chester to West Kirby – via Neston, Heswall, Irby and Frankby
- # 38 / 38a: Eastham Ferry/Bromborough/Eastham Rake/New Ferry to West Kirby – via Port Sunlight, Tranmere, Claughton and Moreton