West Kirby visitors urged to use public transport if possible
With the school summer holidays getting underway, people looking to visit West Kirby in the coming months are being reminded that public transport is the best way to get to the resort this summer.
That is, in part, due to a significant number of public car parking spaces being unavailable because of the ongoing work to construct a new flood defence barrier along South Parade – the promenade – in West Kirby.
The public car park at Dee Lane is closed for the duration of the project as it is being used by the council’s construction partner, VolkerStevin, as their works compound. In additional, large stretches of South Parade, where people had previously been able to park their car before the works started, will also not be accessible.
While contractors are looking to maintain access to through traffic on South Parade as much as possible, particularly at weekends, there will be times when sections of the promenade must be closed to traffic altogether. For that reason, if possible, people are advised not to use South Parade to avoid being inconvenienced by a potential temporary road closure. Motorists using the restricted promenade are asked to drive slowly and safely through the works to take account of the restricted road space and the fact that pedestrians cannot use some of the promenade.
In the meantime, piling works are continuing to take place along West Kirby promenade ready for the new flood wall. These piles are hollow steel circular tubes that are pushed through the weak ground underneath the promenade until they reach firmer, supporting ground. The top of the tube at ground level is then capped off with concrete, which provides a suitable foundation for the new promenade and wave wall so it is capable of withstanding wave forces that will act upon it.
Once completed, West Kirby will have a new 1.1km long, 1.2m high, curved wall along the length of South Parade between Sandy Lane and Riversdale Road. The wall will act as a barrier separating South Parade and properties situated on it from potentially damaging flood waters, which Council and Environment Agency officers confirmed were becoming an increasingly likely occurrence as a result of climate change and other natural phenomena.
The design of the barrier will resemble a wave with a continuous curve containing seating, memorial or celebratory plaques (including replicas of those previously in place on the promenade), and contain access points and crossing spaces. The scheme also includes an upgraded public realm, including new paving and highway on South Parade, refurbishment of the Old Baths and the introduction of a dedicated cycle lane.
Cllr Liz Grey, Chair of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee for Wirral Council said: “West Kirby’s location already puts it at more risk of flooding than many areas and as sea levels continue to rise, the potential severity of that flooding and the dangers it might pose to people and property are a genuine concern.
“We take our responsibility to protect residents, businesses and the local environment from that risk very seriously and thanks to the support of the Environment Agency – and in consultation with local people – we have been able to start delivering this significant and essential coastal protection scheme at West Kirby.”
Ollie Hope, the Environment Agency’s Area Flood and Coastal Risk Manager for Cheshire and Merseyside, added: "Our priority is to reduce the risk of flooding to the West Kirby community now and for future generations as sea levels rise and storms become more extreme. We are delighted to be working with Wirral Council on this significant investment to the West Kirby coast.
"The new scheme will better protect 70 properties at risk of tidal flooding and deliver improvements along the promenade."
Mark Cronshaw, Framework Director – Environment, at VolkerStevin said: “After working to help develop this vital scheme for the West Kirby area, we are delighted and proud to be working in partnership with Wirral Council and the Environment Agency to deliver the construction phase for the local community.
“With the backdrop of a climate emergency, the project will bring much needed flood protection to homes and businesses in West Kirby, whilst delivering upgrades to West Kirby South Parade and surrounding areas, for the local community to enjoy for many years. During the course of construction, our team will of course be doing whatever they can to keep any disruption to a minimum.”
Partners have set up a facility for residents and visitors to raise any issues relating to the construction works – or for people just to make an enquiry about the project.
The entrance to the Community Experience Centre is situated on Salisbury Avenue, near to the junction with South Parade. It is open from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday.
Work on the flood defence barrier is set to continue until November 2022. For more information on the scheme visit www.wirral.gov.uk/westkirbywall