Confusion sweeps into seafront plans

CONFUSION reigned today over just how safe Felixstowe's south seafront site is from the sea.Councillors are determined to press ahead and build 188 new homes along with some leisure facilities, but residents have already been refused insurance because the area is at risk from flooding.

By Richard Cornwell

CONFUSION reigned today over just how safe Felixstowe's south seafront site is from the sea.

Councillors are determined to press ahead and build 188 new homes along with some leisure facilities, but residents have already been refused insurance because the area is at risk from flooding.

Waves regularly overtop the sea wall in winter, but the land acts as a "soakaway" to stop the water reaching homes alongside in Manor Terrace, which are all given sandbags every winter.

Suffolk Coastal chiefs said the chances of the area being flooded was once in 200 years, but even if that is correct the current sea defences would not protect the multi-million pound development site.

The Environment Agency has sent letters to residents to say the area is "currently not protected by a defence of appropriate one in 200 year standard".

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The letter adds: "The agency flood defence is the actual sea wall which the agency has permissive powers over to undertake improvement and maintenance works to.

"It is at present not considered to be at the standard required to provide appropriate protection to the area which is in a floodplain."

Mike Ninnmey, of the Save Our Seafront campaign, said: "People are quite worried by this news and there seems to be a lot of confusion over the standard the walls have been built to – it could be one in 100 years or even less."

Edwina and Bob Rust, of Manor Terrace, who have been refused insurance cover for their home, were told the risk was one in 100 years.

But Andy Smith, Suffolk Coastal cabinet member for planning, said the situation would be clearer next month, when the council is due to receive the first part of a coastal strategy study by consultants Halcrow.

The report will specifically look at the flood risk for the southern end of the resort and areas where further protection might be needed.

Mr Smith said a draft report had been received some months ago, comments were made, and its scope was then extended by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which caused another delay.

"It is a strategy report so it will give us the baseline information. The next stage will then be to consider what schemes or solutions are needed and this will be the detailed work," he said.

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