Latest update on Littlehampton’s Sea Defences. Environment Agency answers your questions.

Earlier this week, I caught up with Andrew Walker from the Environment Agency and asked him if the Environment Agency would provide a detailed update that I could share with readers of the Pier Road Diaries.

Despite being over-run with weather and dealing with constant and dangerous flooding problems, Andrew and his team have found the time to provide this useful update for Littlehampton’s residents and business owners.

When will the Works now be completed?

The works in Pier Road and Arun Parade are currently forecast to be completed in autumn 2014.

2.    What caused this delay?

There are four main reasons for the delay we are currently experiencing:

1.    Adverse weather, including; a 30 year extreme high tide event, multiple days of gale force winds and largest amount of December rainfall in the Arun catchment since 1934. The wettest January on record.

2.    Multiple crane and crane rig breakdowns, as well as other technical issues with mechanical plant.

3.    A number of complex and very important safety issues regarding locating the crane on the existing riverside area (temporary works).

4.    The drawings for Arun Parade and Pier Road have recently been finalised, this has led to some increases in the amount of time required on site.

 

3.    Why didn’t you know about these safety issues before the start of the works?

Our original method of works was to stand the cranes in Arun Parade and Pier Road on standard crane mats. Following on from a detailed analysis of the existing structures it became evident that there was a significant risk of a catastrophic slip circle failure of the existing structure. This has led to a redesign of the structures which support the cranes.

4.    Why didn’t you factor weather delays into your programme?

We did factor in typical winter weather into our construction programme. To date, this winter’s weather has been exceptional.

We have experienced nearly 4 month’s rain in 2 weeks in December. January was the wettest on record and February is forecast to continue experiencing further low pressure systems. More importantly, we have experienced a larger than average number of gale force wind events throughout December and January.

When average wind speeds increase above 13m/s, crane operations on site are suspended for safety reasons. Using the crane to drive the steel sheet piles is a critical item of work on site. This is why high wind speeds can have a negative impact on the construction works.

 5.    What are you doing about this delay?

We have already started doing some work at the weekends, in order to try and minimise the impacts. We are continuing to work with Arun District Council Environmental Health team to explore the opportunities to reduce the construction programme by working at weekends.

We are looking for every opportunity to maximise efficiency to start to regain lost time. For example, we will continue to explore the opportunities for weekend working, we will look to increase site construction hours as the days get longer, we will advertise in the local press that Pier Road remains open for business, we will change fencing alignments wherever possible to create more room on footpaths and we will attempt to reopen sections of both road as soon as works are completed.

6.    How do we know that the delays won’t increase further?

We are working with the best available information that we have at the current time. There is the potential for our forecast construction time on site to increase or decrease, depending on a number factors. We will always keep you updated on our scheduled construction programme.

7.    What is Arun Parade/Pier Road going to look like through the summer?

The piling works will be complete and the large cranes will be off site. There will be on-going construction works of the concrete capping beam, retaining walls and public realm enhancements.

8.    What are the effects of the delay? Where will they be felt?

The increase in the construction time means that Pier Road and Arun Parade will be closed through the summer. The project board agreed that this approach was preferable to closing down the site and remobilising after summer.

9.    Will the road still be closed throughout the summer?

Pier Road and Arun Parade will remain closed to vehicular traffic over the summer (dependent on approval from the Highways Authority). We will do everything we can to minimise the impacts of the road closures.

 Where possible we will undertake a staggered reopening when sections of the work are completed.

If we are able to we will realign the site perimeter fencing in places, in order to improve pedestrian access to the businesses on Pier Road and Arun Parade.

10.  What is being done to restore public confidence in visiting Littlehampton?

We will continue to publicise that Pier Road and Arun Parade are open to visitors through various local media outlets. We welcome any ideas which you may have regarding publicising businesses in the local area.

11.  Can’t you just close the works and start again at the end of the summer?

The decision was taken by the project board that in order to minimise disruption to residents, businesses and visitors, that site works will continue through the summer months. There was concern that closing the site, leaving the area half constructed, and returning later in the year would result in more disruption for local people.

This option has been assessed by the project team and discounted due to the following reasons;

·         The piling is scheduled to be completed before the start of the summer, whilst the landscaping works would only be partially completed;

·         There would be addition temporary works require making the site safe for the public (temporary handrail, surfacing), these works would be abortive and add to the project costs;

·         Continuing through the summer brings opportunities to increase productivity  due to increased daylight hours and better weather;

·         Compensation will potentially cost more during the summer, but there are opportunities to minimise these costs by further advertising, and opening up completed sections.

My thanks to Andrew and the Project Team at the Environment Agency for taking the time out to update the Pier Road Diaries Readers.

To keep up with all the latest from Pier Road Diaries, make sure you sign up for regular updates by entering your email address in the top right hand corner of this page.

You can also follow Pier Road on Twitter @Pier_road


Littlehampton Sea Defences, latest update; crane has a new engine and we’re back on track..

After a disappointing and frustrating start for everyone, the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences are now back on track now that the £1.3m crane has been fitted with its new engine.

At a meeting earlier this week, Andy Hills, VolkerStevin’s Site manager talked to traders and explained that while it was frustrating for everyone that the scheme had fallen now three weeks behind schedule, he was hopeful that they would catch up. ‘Now that the crane has been repaired,’ he said, ‘we can really move ahead and start on the piling works.’

While answering questions in relation to why there was only one crane and one crew operating as opposed to the two cranes and two crews as per the original plan (one for Pier Road and a separate one for Arun Parade), Andy explained that owing to the narrow working space they couldn’t bring the second crane in to be assembled while they needed space to fit a replacement engine to the original crane. ‘It’s frustrating,’ he said. ‘But we’re there now as the replacement engine was flown especially in from Austria and arrived in only two days.’

As Arun District Council’s Environment Agency granted VolkerStevin temporary dispensation to work this weekend on ‘light works’ (ie, those which don’t cause any potential noise nuisance) work began in earnest yesterday, Saturday morning to fit the first of the steel works as pictured below.

Littlehampton Sea Defences first steels being installedA historic moment in the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences. The picture above shows the first installation of Steel into the original sea wall. The green and red colours in the background are the Noise Reduction Panels that are attached to the Haras fencing where the work is taking place.

Littlehampton sea defences Arun ParadeAndy Hill’s explained that a second crane will be arriving early this coming week (week commencing 2nd December 2013) and this crane will be working in Pier Road, thus returning to the original plan – 2 cranes operating at the same time with 2 crews.Andy explained that the piling should begin all being well this week.

I bumped into Andy a number of times yesterday,( Saturday) and he was clearly delighted  that Arun District Council have granted a temporary works order to allow them work during this weekend on what Andy described as ‘light work’, which wouldn’t involve any heavy duty piling or anything that would cause any excess noise. Andy’s enthusiasm for this project is infectious and I felt like leaving my shop, grabbing a shovel and coming out and helping him…

Later in the evening, I found him still walking around in high-viz jacket, still working…

Also this week, I finally got a chance to catch up with Eric Smethurst, VolkerStevin’s Public Liaison Manager and visit his recently opened Information Centre.

Eric Smethurst VolkerStevinI popped in on Eric when he was in full flight giving a talk to a couple of local residents who had visited his Drop In Information Centre, which is located just above the Oyster Pond and just below Riverside Fish Kiosk.

You can’t help but be moved by Eric’s enthusiasm and his infectious laughter. A veteran of these schemes, Eric has worked on a number of successful sea defence schemes constructed by VolkerStevin on behalf of the Environment Agency, and it shows. His easy manner, his knowledge and particularly his ability to explain complex engineering to the lay person is admirable, to say the least.

When the visitors left,  Eric explained his role in a greater detail.

“I’m primarily here,’ he said ‘to ensure that the public and local business owners have a dedicated point of contact. Someone who they can ask questions of, and help solving any logistical problems they might be having.”

He’s certainly achieving his goals as I know all of the business owners in Pier Road have found Eric not only to be extremely helpful in their dealing with him, but also enjoy his presence. Eric is a big man in every respect. Taller than most, widely travelled. Eric spent over 20 years living and breathing engineering  projects in America.

‘So where are you from originally?’ I ask as if it’s not obvious.

‘Durham,’ Eric says. But obviously I’ve spent a lot of time in the States.

‘So what can the public expect if they pop in and see you?’

‘Well, ‘ Eric says, ‘they can ask any questions they might have and also see plans of the build and as well as visuals of how the scheme will look post construction. I’m also going to have a slide projection shows, and we’ll have a real-life example of the actual sheet piles being used in the build.’

Eric Smethurst Volkerstevin manager 2Eric demonstrating how the piling will work.

‘Are you just based here?’ I ask.

‘Gosh, no,’ Eric says. ‘No, once we’re into the project I’ll be visiting the local schools and giving talks to the local school children on what’s happening in their town and how the build will create a better future for them. It’s great fun,” he says. “You’d be surprised at how environmentally-aware school children are. When we were working in Glasgow, we had to cut down a whole row of trees to build the new wall. When I visited the schools, I’d have hundreds of young children staring accusingly at me  all demanding to know why we’d cut down their trees..’

“But you turned them around?”

Eric pauses for a moment, ‘They might be young, but they’re not stupid they can understand anything once you take the time to explain it to them. Once they understood why the trees had to go we worked with them to come up with a planting scheme for replacement trees and it really was great fun.

Eric Smethurst Volker Stevin ManagerEric Smethurst, Public Liaison Manager, VolkerStevin welcoming visitors to the Environment Agency Scheme’s Drop in Information Centre located just in front of the Oyster Pond.

Eric’s Drop in Centre is open every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – 8am to 4pm. All are very welcome.

Littlehampton Sea Defences artists impression post worksJust one of a number of artists impressions of how the finished scheme will look that you can see in Eric’s Drop in Centre.

Remember, to keep abreast of all that’s going on in Pier Road – please follow Pier Road on twitter @Pier_road  and to get regular blog updates from the Diaries, just enter your email address in the top right side of this page to subscribe to the Diaries.

Coming shortly, I catch up on a local regeneration scheme in River Road – one that had it’s fair share of controversy at the planning stage, but is now nearing completion.

As always, thanks for reading.

Paul

Brighton Sea Cruises to Visit Littlehampton

Sussex Sea Charters will be basing their beautiful cruise boat – The Belle in Pier Road, Littlehampton where they’ll be running boat trips to Arundel.

The initiative is part of the Arundel Festival which runs from the 17th August to 26th August.

The operators say that if the trips prove popular they’ll look to introducing a regular service for the next season.

Belle-june-02a

The Belle which will be moored in Pier Road just below the Harbour Board offices will be operating trips to and from Arundel as part of the Arundel Festival.

Arundel Festival is well worth a visit  with lots going on for all ages including the very popular Gallery Trail.

Ship Wrecked in Littlehampton

Littlehampton Arts Festival Week.

Ship Wrecked

By

Alan

A Pier Road resident has created his own living exhibit for the Littlehampton Art’s Week featuring himself and his hen Nana in a Living Art Exhibit – Ship Wrecked.

Littlehampton Arts Festival 3Littlehampton Arts Festival Nana the HenAlan’s Hen, Nana is part of the exhibit.

Littlehampton Arts Festival 4Ship Wreck Littlehampton Arts Festival 2“Ship Wrecked’ By Alan can be seen in Pier Road just outside the Littlehampton Harbour Board’s Offices.

Ship Wreck LittlehamptonAlan later modified his living exhibit to the one pictured below having grown tired of what he described as ‘wearysome passers-by who have no appreciation of art. Apparently, a number of people had mistakenly thought he was selling eggs, while others thought he was the subject of an impending eviction and others tried to encourage Nana to make strange clucking noises.

“We thought it best if we both withdrew from the exhibit,’ Alan said.

Littlehampton Arts 2013

Littlehampton Arts Week runs from Saturday 20th July 2013 – 27th July.

Download a brochure for Littlehampton Arts Festival via the link below.

Arts_Festival_190477940

If you can’t make it in time to see Ship Wrecked by Alan – make sure you check out Alan’s Quirky house, which is located in Pier Road.

This quirky, fun and vibrant house is probably the most photographed property in Littlehampton.

quirky house Pier RoadQuirky HousesQuirky houses in LittehamptonHis lady in the top window always raises a smile, although we have had some who have been incensed by it…

Quirky House Pier Road Littlehampton