Pre-Christmas start for major work on Cromer’s sea defences

Refurbishment work on Cromer Pier promenade and sea walls is soon to begin. NNDC coastal engineer Brian Farrow looking at the work that needs doing. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

As little buckets and spades are packed away for next summer, Cromer is preparing for the arrival of some very big buckets and spades aimed at ensuring the resort's future for at least the next half century.

Preliminary work is set to begin on the major Phase One of the Cromer Coast Protection Scheme, bolstering the town's battered sea defences and resurfacing its pier promenade.

Compounds and information boards will go up before Christmas and a workforce will get cracking this winter re-facing the Victorian sea wall, improving its foundations and repairing six groynes.

The near-£4m project is scheduled to take place between October 1 and March 31 this winter, and again between the same dates in 2014-2015.

'Our main message is that Cromer will remain open for business throughout,' said Rob Goodliffe, coastal communities project manager with North Norfolk District Council (NNDC).

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Pedestrian and vehicle access would be maintained, although routes might vary during the course of the work.

Mr Goodliffe anticipates that public interest in the project will be as keen as it was during the recent £1.2m revamp of Cromer Pier.

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Throughout last winter and spring visitors paused to watch workmen laying decking, and divers working on the pier's legs.

Phase One information boards would include historic photos of turn-of-the-century workmen building the sea wall, with the help of a seafront railway and a steam crane, he said.

Other photos would show the last time major work was carried out on the sea wall, in the 1960s, and watchers would be able to compare the tools and techniques of today with those of former eras.

Monday's NNDC cabinet meeting is expected to recommend that the £3,858,000 tender for the Phase One works, submitted by Lancashire-based contractors Volker Stevin, is accepted.

'It's really good news for the area. We will be future-proofing Cromer,' said Mr Goodliffe. 'It will last, with maintenance, for another 50-100 years.'

Widescale consultations with interested parties, including Cromer Town Council, the RNLI, traders and residents, had taken place.

Heavy plant and vehicles were likely to damage the surface of the historic pier promenade between the Melbourne Slope and the Gangway.

Therefore, before work started, 'artworks' - such as the giant compass showing the location of lifeboat rescues, and quotes about Cromer by famous people including Churchill - would be photographed, labelled, lifted and stored. They would be reinstated once the work was complete and the prom resurfaced.

Phase Two, less urgent work, is expected to be completed over the next five years.

Sheila Oxtoby, NNDC chief executive, congratulated Mr Goodliffe for securing a substantial sum of government money for all the coast protection work.

'Defra don't just hand out over £8m,' she said. 'A huge amount of hard work has been carried out by Rob and his team to secure the future of Cromer.'

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