Video and photo gallery: Work starts on £8m bolstering of Cromer sea defences
09:34 18 February 2014
Archant Norfolk 2014
For a hundred years Cromer’s stout seawalls have stood firm as Mother Nature and the North Sea rained bludgeoning blows of wind and waves on the town’s picture postcard face.
The west prom is currently closed while work progresses
There will be times when the prom between the Melbourne Slope and the pier will be closed due to slippage repair work
Public car parking including disabled spaces at the bottom of the slope is not available - but negotiations are under way over alternative disabled provision for pier theatre patrons.
Walkers have been advised not to stroll along the beach from the Runtons to Cromer because of the lack of access back on the prom at the west end of the resort.
People keen to see the work in progress can get a good view from the White Steps at the west end, or from the pier.
There is a project public liaison office where people can raise queries and issues at the Runton Road car park from noon to 2pm weekdays, or people can call Brian Farrow on 01263 516193 or email email@example.com
Now the time has come for the walls and breakwaters which protect the resort to have their first ever major revamp.
And it is not just a bit of beachside Botox to make the place look prettier.
The £8m project is designed to “futureproof” the resort for another 60 years.
But the scheme has also been tweaked to mend smashed parapets and cliff slippages caused by the December storm surge, on top of the planned routine repairs to make good the everyday wear and tear.
Industrial sized buckets and spades have moved on to the beach to begin piling a stronger toe to the seawall, which will be given a new concrete overcoat to protect it against the winter.
North Norfolk District Council coastal engineer Brian Farrow said that since the walls were built about 100 years ago bits had been added but this was the first major rebuild.
“They were getting towards the end of their life, with cracks and holes and rust expanding the reinforcing bars,” he explained.
“They had done very well, but you are defending against a very hostile atmosphere - so they have be built like castle walls.”
The project involves:
■1800m of seawalls being refurbished. Steel sheet piling is being hammered about 5m into the beach just in front of the current wall, and a 2m wide concrete apron added for extra protection which stops the waves undermining the walls. Concrete encasements will be hooked to the front of the walls, where hundreds of holes are currently being drilled.
■rebuilding the 90m of cliff near the Melbourne Slope, which involves strengthening the retaining wall, fixing drains, replacing some soil with better-drained granular stone before adding coir matting top soil and grass seed.
■smashed parapets being replaced with strengthened tie rods.
■six out of eight wooden groynes will have old and eroded timbers replaced. The two not being done are two shorter “stub groynes” near the Bath House which are in better condition and were repaired after being smashed by a runaway rig which went through the pier 20 years ago.
■temporary ramps are being mounded up at the groynes to get plant along the beach.
There will be closures of the prom and problems for walkers getting from the beach to the west seafront at times during the scheme.
Mr Farrow said the key to the work was detailed scheduling by contractors VolkerStevin to work in with the tides, including the low spring ones every fortnight which gave access tot he seaward end of the groynes.
Council cabinet member for the coast Angie Fitch-Tillett said: “We hope visitors, and local people will understand the need for the prom closures.
“There will be disruption - but if we don’t do the work there would be no prom.
“We are doing the work at the best time of year for minimum disruption to tourism.”
The Cromer scheme was first mooted in 1998, but took until last year to win full government funding.
Part of the contractors’ brief is also to protect promenade artwork, including stone inscriptions of famous visitors comments about the town and a giant compass flagging up notable lifeboat rescues, installed during a seafront regeneration scheme a decade ago.
■Have you got views on Cromer’s seafront scheme? Write to EDPLetters@archant.co.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org