Two options for new Southwold seafront walkway

NEW designs for a seafront pathway threatened by erosion on Southwold cliffs were met with mixed views this week after the plans went on public display.

People were invited to comment on two different designs for the Ladies Walk pathway on Kilcock Cliff which was closed when structural engineers deemed it unfit for use.

The two new designs, made available to The Journal, include a traditional concrete footpath with pre-cast concrete and a retaining wall, and one featuring a steel walkway elevated on posts.

At present, surveyors are unable to disclose how much each design will cost, but they say they would be similar in price and offer long-term solutions to the problems caused to the cliffs by heavy rainfall, heavy footfall, burrowing rabbits and 'soil creep', a slow adjustment of soil where it slides away.

During the consultation event held at Southwold Town Hall yesterday, people welcomed the chance to choose between the contrasting designs, but a call was made for benches to be put on the walkways so people could still enjoy the seaside views.

Meanwhile, mayor of Southwold John Windell called for more action to stabilise the cliff at Ladies Walk to ensure that further erosion was prevented in the future.

Among those at the consultation was, Chris Ure, 64, a retired social worker from Reydon, who said: 'What is nice is that the two designs are so different.

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'I think the traditional design would be preferable because it resembles what was there before. It is more aesthetically pleasing and it would conform better to the provision of seating and would provide better protection for the weather.

'The more modern design would be more open to the elements and the positioning of benches would be less pleasing visually. I think that some elderly people may be inhibited by the open railings which may appear less robust to them.'

The opinions of people in the town will be taken on board by Southwold Town Council which will agree a preferred option for development before presenting it to Waveney District Council for consideration.

Both designs use prefabricated materials, which allows for some work to be done off site.

Mr Windell said: 'We have had a stream of complaints about Ladies Walk being closed. My main concern is the erosion to the cliff. We want to make sure they are not just putting the pathway back, but stabilising it at the same time.'

He added: 'The angelica grass is not enough to stop the problems. I would like to see a programme where grasses are put in place so the roots bind the soil together. If that doesn't happen then erosion will continue to occur.'

The initial collapse of Ladies Walk, below North Parade, happened in the summer of 2010 when the ground sunk to an angle of 30 degrees and the support for the handrail came away.

As a result, a decision was taken by structural engineers to close the path to the public amid fears that it was too dangerous and might lead to an accident.

Sue Allen, Waveney district councillor for Southwold and Reydon, said: 'I think it is great that so many people are interested, and Waveney is committed to replacing the footpath. This is the third summer it won't be available.'

Property consultants Norfolk Property Services (NPS), which provide project management and planning consultancy for the district council, completed the report into the stability of the cliff face.

People have until Thursday, March 9 to submit their views on the two Ladies Walk designs. This can be done by filling in a form at Southwold town hall.

•For more information, contact Sue Bowyer, NPS Property Consultants on 01502 532352.

•What do you think? Send your views to Postbox, The Journal, 147, London Road North Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email including your name and address.

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