East Devon’s Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan funding gap of more than £1m now bridged following changes to criteria

Authored by Newsdesk
Posted: Thursday, May 14, 2020 - 21:28

Following long-awaited changes to funding eligibility for flood and coastal risk projects from the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the funding gap for East Devon District Council’s Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan (BMP) is now fully bridged following our assessment as confirmed by our consultant. This allows the project to proceed to the next stage, subject to DEFRA approval.

The eligibility changes for central Government grant money has increased enough to sufficiently cover the BMP’s current funding gap of more than £1m. 

The additional funding, which the council emphasises is still subject to final DEFRA approval, will allow the project to proceed to the next stages, which involve the creation of a full business case, detailed design, and eventually construction. The project team then has to obtain planning permission to ensure the construction of the BMP.

The news comes as the council plans to remove the trial glass panel from the Esplanade next week (w/b May 18) following its test period. Although the panel survived everything the sea could throw at it including a number of heavy storms, the land side part of the panel was vandalised in March. The panel will go back to the contractor’s depot for a thorough examination to see if it is still a viable option for the future. 

Feedback on the panel’s suitability has been generally positive, and it’s hoped it will prove to be a viable option along at least part of the much needed raised splash defence. In light of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure the safety of our contractors and the public, please do not gather to watch its removal.

The council is planning to host a public exhibition, when circumstances allow, in order to gather feedback on the details of the proposals, including the glass splash panel, prior to submitting a planning application.

East Devon’s proposed scheme has more than £137m of economic benefits and will protect 120 residential properties from coastal flooding, as well as a further five properties from erosion, by slowing the erosion rate of the East Beach cliff. 

Cllr Geoff Jung, Chairman of the East Devon Sidmouth and East Beach steering group, and Environment portfolio holder for East Devon District Council, said:

“Now the Sidmouth and East Beach BMP is most likely to be fully funded, the East Devon team can concentrate on finalising the details of the project, such as accommodating an attractive new splash defence along the esplanade, improved slipway access and a recharged beach, which are all part of the preferred option, which is estimated to cost £8.7million.

“It is planned that as soon as is possible an exhibition and a chance to “meet the team” session will be held in Sidmouth (subject to Coronavirus emergency measures) providing local people the opportunity to see and understand the final designs.

“The project team will also have to apply for planning permission which will be subject to further period of public consultation, and agreement from strategy consultees which will include the Town Council, Natural England, and Historic England.  Final assurance checks by the Environment Agency must also be passed to confirm the eligibility of the central Government Grant.”

Cllr Cathy Gardner and Cllr Denise Bickley, ward members for Sidmouth Town, Cllr John Loudoun, ward member for Sidmouth rural, and Cllr Stuart Hughes, Cllr Dawn Manley and Cllr Marianne Rixson ward members for Sidmouth Sidford, welcomed the news. They said:

“We are delighted that this extra funding is available. The long-awaited beach management plan can now move on to the next stage.”

Further information about the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Scheme can be found on the East Devon website: https://eastdevon.gov.uk/beaches-harbours-and-coastal-information/coastal-protection/beach-management-plans/sidmouth-and-east-beach-management-plan-and-scheme/   

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