Historic Whitby in line for flood defences

Whitby Harbour
Whitby Harbour
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Moves to protect an area of historic Whitby badly hit by a coastal surge twelve months ago from further flooding will be discussed by senior councillors next week.

Whitby has a long history of tidal flooding with records of problems going back to the 1800s while in more recent times there have been major incidents in Church Street in 2005, 2011 and it was also flooded during December 2013’s storm surge which hit the Yorkshire coast.

Senior councillors will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to back the £1m scheme which will see flood walls and flood gates built to protect over sixty properties.

“Church Street is within the Whitby Conservation Area and is part of the tourism appeal of the town, with views across the harbour.

“There are currently no formal flood defences in place to prevent tidal overtopping of the quay walls. The existing quay walls function as retaining walls and to prevent erosion from fluvial and tidal flows.

“Therefore any tide which exceeds the height of the top of the quay wall will flow into the road and proceed to flood adjacent properties,” Jim Dillon, Scarborough Council’s chief executive says in a report prepared for members.

He warns continued flooding of the area “could impact upon the tourism appeal of Whitby.”

Coun Mike Cockerill, the council’s cabinet member for harbours, assets, coast and flood protection said today the scheme would protect an important part of the town.

“It is an important part of Whitby, it is down by the harbour and when you get the high water it does suffer badly,” he said.

“It is something that we have wanted to do for a long time,” he added.

Last year a council report warned Whitby’s historic piers which help to give the famous coastal town its distinctive character and also offer protection from the elements urgently need attention. Coun Cockerill said the Church Street and proposed pier works were separate schemes.

He said some cash had already been secured the pier scheme and work was continuing to secure extra money and work up more detailed design plans and costings. A council report last year warned a study had revealed both the main piers had “a residual life of less than 10 years” and had been described as being in a poor or “very poor” structural condition.

“If the piers ever went the effect on Whitby would be significant,” Coun Cockerill added.

On Tuesday members of the cabinet will be told the December 2013 tidal surge caused major disruption in Church Street including the flooding of many properties and the road. It is one of the main routes in and out of the town and provides access to businesses, homes, wharves, the Captain Cook Memorial Museum and boat pontoons/jetties, the report says.

It is proposed work on the project is carried out in two stages, with the second stage planned some years hence, subject to a scheme being agreed.

When councillors meet on Tuesday they will be asked to back a proposal to accept grants for the scheme. Members are also being asked to authorise officers to seek consultants to manage the project.