Flood maps of the town show how 400 properties (including the railway line) are at risk from flooding from the sea, for the 1-in-100 year period storm event. Torbay Council, the Environment Agency and its consultant Royal HaskoningDHV have looked into a long list of options reducing to just four for detailed examination as follows:-
Option 1: To do nothing
Option 2: To do a minimum with a set back wall
Option 3: To do larger capital scheme with a set back wall at higher level
Option 4: To do an adaptive scheme over a 50-year period starting with a set-back wall, along with future interventions.
At the outset, the Council stated the following:
• "Consultation" ended 27th March 2021.
• Planning application to be made as soon as possible.
• 1.1m high precast concrete wall set back from existing sea wall and placed on The Green alongside the footpath of the Eastern Esplanade with flood gates at pedestrian and vehicular access points. Flood defence capability to 2035. The wall will be higher where ground levels reduce going around shelters and the Geoplay Park kiosk.
• Increased in height to 1.4m in 2035 with flood defence capability through to 2065, to allow for climate change/sea level rises.
• Considered to be the lowest impact scheme.
• Protecting 210 properties currently at risk from flooding, increasing to 238 in 2035 and 352 in 2065 for a 0.5% AEP (Annual Exceedance Probability) tidal event (1-in-200) years.
• Construction start date October 2021, with work undertaken during the winter months from October to Easter.
• Completion March 2023.
• Total cost in excess of £3 million for the current scheme for Paignton and Preston Coastal Defences with £1.35 million allocated for the Paignton sea wall and a further £0.35 million to raise the wall height to the 2065 design.
• Landscaping and seating to follow within 2 to 3 years but nothing included for this, despite stating 'potential loss of landscape character and visual amenity'.
This so-called consultation on the sea wall once again shows how poorly this Council involves the community. Whilst the sea wall idea has been talked about for years, it is only when they have spent thousands and have a planning-ready scheme that they are trying to sell it to us and they wonder why people are objecting. This broken Council process of ‘consultation’, of just informing us at a late stage, has got to stop now!
Option 4 Selected
The Council's January 2021 press release talks about a wall from the Redcliffe Hotel to the Paignton Club with it being 1.1m high north of the pier and 1.0m south of pier to be built of precast concrete factory made units with decorative panels. Refer to Drawing 1: Torbay Council's Set Back Flood Barrier (above) showing a section through the prom.
In our view this is a lowest-cost medium-term quick fix solution, given that the existing sea wall has a life expectancy of 50 years and will need full or partial replacement in time. Further, just £3 million pounds is involved on the Paignton and Preston flood barriers with £1.35 million allocated for the Paignton section – not a lot of money.
By comparison Weston-super-Mare spent £32 million on a secondary splash wall, at Dawlish £80 million is being spent on a higher sea wall to protect the railway line, and £64 million was spent on the Fylde coast on an award winning scheme.
A great deal of time and expense has been incurred to produce a technical solution. We may have to like it or lump it but something MUST be done. Whilst the Council states: “...working with residents and local businesses around Paignton we want to develop a scheme which protects and enhances the area.”
It has not worked with us and the proposal as it stands does not enhance the area one little bit! It has quite simply not got past the concept stage. It is very apparent they have not considered how to reduce or overcome the visual impact on the promenade or contribution to the public realm despite stating: “...potential for loss of landscape character and visual amenity”. It's just a line on a plan at present.
It is also noted that the Council's desire is to change the status of the prom from a highway to a car park. Whilst this may not seem important, our understanding is it will avoid maintaining it to the same level and with the sea allowed to wash over it for years to come, it will deteriorate further with the set back option.
Additional drawings have been prepared by us to undertake a proper consultation.
Drawing 1: Torbay Council's Set Back Flood Barrier
Drawing 2: Wave wall alternative scheme between cinema and pier
Drawing 3: Alternative details – cinema to pier
Sketch 1: How to soften the impact of Flood Barrier
Sketch 2: Alternative design between cinema and pier
Sketch 3: Let's Make Paignton Prom Great Again – comprehensive seafront scheme
In Particular, Sketch 1 'How to soften the impact of flood barrier', illustrates how a 'green linear route' can maintain the concept of Paignton as a 'Garden Town by the Seaside'.
Ideas to enhance the scheme must be included in any planning application and carried out as an integral part of the project.