Fears over a new Scarborough landslip have been raised after large cracks appeared in the footpath.
The area, which is opposite the end of Prince of Wales Terrace along the Esplanade, has been fenced off and is being monitored by council experts.
Without the work, there are fears that parts of the area above the Spa could fall into the sea in a reminder of the town’s Holbeck Hall landslip, which hit international headlines when the wood-panelled hotel and some of its contents tumbled away in 1993.
The news comes as Scarborough Borough Council agreed to commit up to £1.87 million to a £14 million coastal protection plan at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. The project will be carried out to protect the land above Scarborough Spa, which has been identified as being at high risk of landslip.
The issue was also discussed at Tuesday night’s meeting of South Cliff Community Group, where members raised major concerns about the cracks.
Group member Adrian Perry said: “People are worried about the cracks, there’s no doubt about it.
“People welcomed the idea of a contract being put in place for the protection work, with £1.87m being provided by the council, but the main thing is that people want the work to be done quickly.”
Mr Perry, who is also chairman of Scarborough Civic
Society, added: “There is also concern about what state the gardens will be in after the work is carried out.
“The council are trying to get a Parks for People grant so the gardens can be properly restored after the work has been done.”
Mr Perry said the barriers being put up were “an indication that the work needs to be done as soon as possible”.
Cllr Mike Cockerill, portfolio holder for coast and flood protection, explained: “Scarborough Council has been monitoring the cliff above and round the Spa for a number of years. We have a number of pieces of equipment permanently in situ. Additionally the area is regularly walked by officers to see if there are any visible signs of movement.
“Some time ago, during one of the ‘walks’, council officers noticed the cracks and minor subsidence evident in the footpath.
“As the highway is a County Council responsibility, officers notified the relevant officer at County who arranged the erection of the fence.
“Scarborough Council officers have paid particular attention to the area of cliff directly below the cracked footpath and have not detected any significant movement.”
A spokesman from North Yorkshire County Council said: “The cracks in the pavement on Esplanade are the result of minor movement. We are monitoring the situation and keeping the area safe.
“Barriers have been erected along a section of the pavement, but access is not restricted.
“It is expected that repairs to the pavement will be incorporated into the slope stabilisation scheme, which is to be undertaken shortly by Scarborough Borough Council and to which the County Council is contributing funds.”
During Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Cllr Andrew Backhouse said: “This has been a long time coming and it is important that this goes forward. This is an essential asset and we welcome it.”
Cllr Cockerill said: “At the moment we can only guess at the situation for the requirements to the sea defence.”
He added that they cannot be definite that rock armour will be the favoured method and that they should consider the impact of the decision on their successors.
Cllr Cockerill continued: “It is worth pointing out that in these very difficult times that the country finds itself in, officers have to be congratulated on working with the Environment Agency on maintaining the level of funding offered.
“We will be approaching the county council to increase their contribution to the risk contingency and will be
asking officers to approach other organisations to contribute.”
The Environment Agency has committed £11.6 million to the works with North Yorkshire County Council promising £1.2 million of its own money.
Following a public consultation, the work will be carried out in two phases after new information suggested that an unpopular plan to build a rock armour sea wall along the south bay foreshore will not be needed for at least another 50 years.
During the council’s consultation, there was a considerable protest from local residents and businesses, who claimed the sea wall would impact on the look and appeal of the town’s seafront.
The first phase will comprise cliff works to stabilise the slopes behind the Spa, capital maintenance of the sea wall to remedy “significant defects” and the implementation of a risk management plan for “wave overtopping and land-sliding”.