Whitby’s historic piers gone in 10 years without repairs, experts warn

Whitby's harbour and piers
Whitby's harbour and piers
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They have featured in thousands of holiday snaps but they also offer protection from the elements and now efforts are being made to repair Whitby’s crumbling iconic piers.

The resort’s historic piers which help to give the famous seaside town its distinctive character and have a vital coastal defence role urgently need attention after warnings were made last year that up to 500 homes could be at risk of coastal erosion unless urgent repairs are made.

Whitby Harbour. Picture by Gerard Binks

Whitby Harbour. Picture by Gerard Binks

A major report to Scarborough Borough Council’s cabinet last year warned the east and west piers could have only have a lifespan left of 10 years.

Over £4.5m towards the scheme has now been secured and Scarborough Council said today it has begun securing the rest of the cash needed to begin work on the £8.6m scheme.

The authority is currently in the process of appointing a consultant to supervise the project and shortly plans to engage a contractor to design and cost the project and draw up more detailed plans.

Coun Mike Cockerill, the council’s cabinet member for harbours, assets, coast and flood protection: “The piers are key assets for the port of Whitby and the local economy so it is imperative that we look to find the best solutions to improve and maintain them for many years to come.”

The authority hopes to have secured the cash it needs and be a position to begin work by July 2017 with works expected to be completed by October 2018. Proposed works include stabilising external sandstone facing blocks, putting in a floodgate and repairing the top surface of the piers to prevent water seeping in during rough seas.

“Surveys to identify the extent of the problems that need addressing have already been carried out and the information gathered will be used as part of the specification for the works,” Coun Cockerill added.

The Environment Agency has earmarked £4.8m for the project and the balance will need to be found from other sources, including the council.

“The piers form an integral part of the costal defences for the Whitby frontage and are important in terms of significance in the development of the town and the role they play in the tourist appeal of the town, ” the council’s chief executive Jim Dillon warned in a report last year.

The council has previously carried out emergency improvements to the town’s east pier in 2011 and 2012.