Scarborough’s iconic shoreline is to be protected against cliff erosion for years to come thanks to urgent £14 million works.
On Tuesday councillors on the coastal authority will be asked to commit £1,877,000 to the scheme, which will protect the area above Scarborough Spa, which hosts travelling shows and musical performances in the town.
Without the work, there are fears that the South Cliff could fall into the sea in a harrowing reminder of the town’s Holbeck Hall landslip, which hit national headlines when the building was lost to the sea in 1993.
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 of 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 landsliding.
Portfolio holder for coast and flood protection, Cllr Mike Cockerill, said it was important the work was started quickly.
He said: “As with any project that requires funding from an outside body, we have had a lot of hoops to jump through and a lot of reports to read and compile. Hopefully with the approval that will be granted on Tuesday, this will mean we enter the tunnel and will soon be able to see the light at the end of it.” He added that despite the cost the work was vitally important for public safety. Small cliff slides in the area were reported in 2001 and 2007 and the council fears the next one could destroy the Grade II listed Victorian theatre.
Cllr Cockerill added: “It is not just the Spa itself that will be protected but also the buildings and homes above it.
“We monitor the cliff movement very closely and there has been cause for concern and it is important therefore that this work is carried out to ensure there is no loss of life or property on the South Cliff.
“I am very pleased that we can now go out to the people who live in the area and will be directly affected by this and show them what we are doing.”
A report that will go before the council’s cabinet on Tuesday lays out just how precarious the situation is for the Spa and the 55-metre high cliff behind it.
It states: “Detailed ground modelling and stability analysis have identified that the cliffs behind the Spa currently have a factor of safety of around 1.0, which indicates the slopes are close to failure.”