Plans drawn up for £3m flood defence walls

Example of the sea wall at Morecambe, Lancashire, similar to what is proposed at Paignton and Preston 

Example of the sea wall at Morecambe, Lancashire, similar to what is proposed at Paignton and Preston - Credit: Torbay Council

Plans are being drawn up for new flood walls costing £3million on the seafronts at Paignton and Preston in Torbay to protect homes and businesses.

Torbay Council says the defences are needed to safeguard an increasing number of properties at risk from flooding as climate change causes the sea level in Torbay to rise by more than one metre.

It says about 90 homes and 120 businesses are currently at risk from weather events like Storm Emma in 2018, which caused extensive flooding.

Maps of Paignton showing left, area at risk of flooding now, and right, increased area at risk after 50 years without new...

Maps of Paignton showing left, area at risk of flooding now, and right, increased area at risk after 50 years without new sea defences - Credit: Torbay Council

After 50 years of climate change, the number of properties at risk is predicted to rise to 352.

The walls would run for around three-quarters of a mile in total behind the current sea defences at the edge of the greens along both seafronts, with most of the funding provided by the Environment Agency.

The height at Paignton would range between one metre (39 inches) south of the pier and 1.1metre (43 inches) on the north section.

Flooding during Storm Emma in 2018

Flooding during Storm Emma in 2018 - Credit: Torbay Council

At Preston, a wall of 1.5 metre (59 inches) would run from The Boathouse, between the beach huts that face the sea and those that face the green, up to Marine Parade.

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Plans for Paignton show the new walls being built back from the current sea defences, to go where the open space of Paignton Green meets the pavement on the seafront side, running from the Paignton Club to the Redcliffe Hotel.

Plan showing the line of proposed new sea wall at Preston

Plan showing the line of proposed new sea wall at Preston - Credit: Torbay Counci

Plans published for consultation ahead of a planning application show the walls running behind seafront shelters so the views of the sea would remain the same, and a series of gaps for access, including gates or barriers at roads.

Conservative councillor for Preston Chris Lewis welcomed the proposals, warning that there was no other option to prevent flooding due to rising sea levels.

He said: “We should take it as a good thing, not just as a Donald Trump wall around Preston and Paignton. We should see it in a good light, with seating on it and designs.

 Plan showing the line of the proposed new sea wall at Paignton

Plan showing the line of the proposed new sea wall at Paignton - Credit: Torbay Council

“It could be a really good feature, at the same time it will be doing its job holding the sea back.

"“There is no option. The sea does cause flooding, and it is a built-up area. We have to protect the properties there, and we have got the money from Government to do it.”

Preston resident Jennie Davies, chair of the Torbay Beach Hut Group, welcomed proposals to put the wall between rows of beach huts at Preston, so the views of users would be unaffected.

She said: “We have got to be led by the experts on this. If we are being told there is going to be flooding, I think we have got to do something positive.”

Torbay Council says the work will cost £3,142,000, with 95 per cent of the funding secured from the Environment Agency.

The council is planning to add £105,000 from its budget and from planning contributions from developers.

The plans are outlined on a page on the council’s website, which includes maps of the area of Paignton at risk of flooding now, and the increased area at risk after 50 years of climate change.

The page also shows designs on a similar flood defence wall built at Morecambe in Lancashire, and pictures show the extent of flooding at Paignton as a result of Storm Emma in 2018.

A planning application is due to be submitted at the end of February with the proposed layout, height, and the designs that could go on the wall, which the council says would reflect the local area.

A statement on the council’s website said: “As our climate is changing, sea levels are rising and more storms are hitting Torbay, we have been taking a look at our sea defences, particularly those in Paignton and Preston.

“Along with the Environment Agency we commissioned an assessment of our current coastal defences. This has shown that the sea defences we currently have on both seafronts at Paignton and Preston will only provide protection from flooding from storms for up to another ten years.

“It has been predicted that due to the climate change we will see the sea level rise in Torbay by over one metre. In the next 100 years the frequency and impact of water coming over the top of the sea walls will increase, resulting in more infrastructure and properties being affected by flooding. On top of that, more intense rainfall will increase the risk of localised flooding and erosion.

“At the moment, whenever we experience storms like Storm Emma in 2018, up to 90 residential properties and just over 120 commercial properties are at risk of flooding.  

"The Torbay Coastal Defences report estimates that, with another 50 years of climate change, the total number of properties at risk of flooding would be 352. By acting now we can rapidly reduce this risk to properties.”

The statement adds: “Working together with the Environment Agency, who have recognised the urgency of this, our residents and local businesses around Paignton and Preston Seafront, we want to develop a scheme which protects and enhances the area.

"A scheme that improves the seafront area and enhances the experience for residents and visitors who visit the beaches, Paignton and Preston greens and the surrounding areas.”

The council is asking for responses to a series of questions about the proposals to help shape the planning application. The website page includes detailed plans of each section of the wall, including proposed breaks for access.

The council is asking for feedback to be emailed to engagement@torbay.gov.uk by Friday, February 19.