Littlehampton Coastguard Tower fails to sell at Auction.

Littlehampton Coastguard Tower fails to sell at Savills Auctions on 9th May 2018.

The tower which was sold previously by Arun District Council has fallen into considerable disrepair under private ownership, which is a real shame.

Prior to it being sold, I had offered Arun District Council an attractive business proposition –  I would lease the tower from the council, thus generating revenue for what was an unused building and turn into a ‘News & Views’ seafront shop. I also planned open the tower to the public as a viewing tower.

My offer was rejected. I was told there was no way that Arun’s councillors would agree and approve my plans as it would potentially impact on an existing, long-established seafront business.

The tower was then sold at auction and has since remained in private ownership since with little or no visible maintenance or upkeep until it being advertised for auction on 9th May 2018 where it was auctioned again, but failed to find a buyer.

Littlehampton’s Coastguard Tower has planning permission to convert it into holiday accommodation. It is available at £95,000 for any interested parties via Savills Auctions.

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.

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Latest pictures of the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences & last week’s dramatic RNLI Rescue

Some pictures of the ongoing construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences.

I took these pictures end of January/first week of February, 2014.

Construction of Littlehampton's sea defences 3The piles are lifted in place using one of two cranes, which are currently in operation in Arun Parade, Littlehampton.

Piling gateThe piles are loaded into a ‘piling gate’ which has been especially designed and constructed for the project. (Picture courtesy of Eric Smethurst  – VolkerStevin)

Construction of Littlehampton's sea defencesEach piles is marked out in metres markers – I believe each pile is 22 metres long.

Construction of Littlehampton's sea defences 4Each pile is then driven into the riverbed by a combination of vibrating it down and then finally banging it into place. The noise you can hear regularly in Littlehampton is the piles being driven into their final positions by the above machine.

Sea Defence construction Arun Parade 8Pile being driven home.

Sea Defence construction Arun Parade 9This picture gives a better view of the piling gate, which also creates a working platform.

Sea defences in Arun Parade LittlehamptonThis is what they look like when they’re all finally in place. The above is a picture of how Arun Parade is looking like now. Some observers has expressed concern that the new sea defences don’t go high enough. When I catch up with Eric next, I’ll ask him for an answer from an engineering perspective. Appearances can be deceptive.

Construction of Littlehampton's sea defences 6This is how Littlehampton’s Arun Parade is shaping up now.

LittlehamptonWorking on the junction of Arun Parade and Pier Road

Construction of Littlehampton Sea Defences 7The piles all in place along the Southern end of Arun Parade.

Sea Defence construction Arun Parade 11Piling at Arun Parade.

Piling works at Arun ParadePiles being driven in at Arun Parade (Littlehampton seafront’s iconic light house in the right of the picture)

littlehampton sea defence construction craneClearly the road surface of Pier Road is not able to take the weight of the crane, which is of particular concern to us here in Pier Road. The vibrations from the piling far exceed what most of us expected. There’s also understandable concern for the integrity of our buildings during these works. Many of Pier Road business owners live above their businesses.

Entrance to Littlehampton harbourTide flowing into Littlehampton harbour. A confused and dangerous sea. This picture was taken just a short time before a lady was swept out to sea. Despite being rescued by Littlehampton RNLI, she passed away later in hospital.

Coastguard helicopterThe Coastguard helicopter flying over Littlehampton Harbour assisting with the rescue.

Air AmbulanceAir Ambulance also attended.

Air Ambulance 2Air Ambulance leaving Littlehampton.

cropped-dscf0234.jpgLittlehampton’s RNLI rescued the lady from the sea, quite literally a few minutes after she first went in. (above is a picture of them on a previous emergency call out). We’re very fortunate here in Littlehampton to have such a dedicated, hardworking local volunteer crew who go out in all weathers and sea conditions.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the lady who passed away.

Arun District Council’s Chief Executive reports the Car Park wasn’t dangerous

Arun District Council Car ParkThe above Arun District Car Park surface isn’t Dangerous – reports Arun District Council’s Chief Executive, Nigel Lynn. Neither does Arun District Council undertake Risk Assessments for their Public Car Parks, as they don’t legally have to.

In a written reply to my complaint about the dangerous state of an area in the West Green Car Park, Mr Lynn replies as follows:

“Dear Mr Power,

We have spoken with the car parking team here regarding risk assessment and they have responded as below …

Arun District Council does not have specific risk assessments for specific car parks and it is not a legal requirement. The car parks are patrolled by our contract staff and where there are Health & Safety issues they are reported. The West Green car park was not closed because we considered it a safety issue but because we recognised that the amount of mud and water on the surface would deter people from parking in that area.”

Kind regards,

Nigel

 

Arun District Council Car ParkNo risk to safety, according to Arun District Council – only the appearance forced the closure of the Car Park.

No need for risk assessments as Arun isn’t legally obliged to undertake any.

Presumably they’re unaware of their Legal Duty Of Care to car park users under common law?

In any event in the absence of specific legislation requiring them to carry out a Risk Assessment, you’d imagine that common sense would require them.

And to claim that this car park isn’t dangerous, well what can I say?

Meanwhile, Arun District Council Car Parks have announced changes to their Car Parking Charges as detailed below.

Arun District Council Car Park ChargesYou need to read them very carefully to see what’s going on.

Arun District Council Car ParksRemember, it’s only the appearance of the above mud that forced the closure of Arun District Council’s Car Park.

The above poses no risk to public safety or is likely to pose hazard or danger to the elderly or those in wheelchairs or those pushing baby buggies?

Littlehampton’s West Bank, a victim of flooding and government targets….

Sadly, homes and business properties on Littlehampton’s West Bank/Beach area have experienced flooding following last night’s tidal surges.

Earlier today I spoke to one resident who told me he and his wife had spent the day out shopping to replace their water damaged electrical goods including fridge and cooker. He described the water coming over the top of wall as frightening. ‘A bit like how you’d imagine your worst nightmare but thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.’

It wasn’t just residential properties that have been affected. Business owners on the Riverside Industrial Estate have been left with extensive water damage to their properties, which will obviously have an adverse effect on their businesses.

To be fair to the Environment Agency (EA) they issued flood warnings – I tweeted one for the Rope tackle area late last night when it appeared on the EA’s website.

It’s important to note that there were no such flood warnings for the East Bank area  – this being the area where the current sea defence works are taking place, which would appear to highlight the fact that the West Bank is at greater risk of flooding from the sea than the East Bank.

So why given £14m is being spent on the East Bank is not a penny available for the West Bank – a matter of only a few metres across the River Arun?

Surely common sense would suggest that if one side of the River Arun is at risk of flooding, then so too will the opposite side?

Alas, I’m afraid it’s all down to targets. You see in order for the Environment Agency to bid for the £14million funding they’ve managed to secure, there was one important caveat – that being there needed to be at least 700 homes at risk of flooding. Just imagine we would have missed out if the EA’s bid could only guarantee flood protection for say 699 homes…

Doesn’t bear thinking about it. Thank goodness they found 700 homes.

As I said, we’re living in a government led target driven society.

Since the consultation process began with the Environment Agency, (over 2 years ago)  a number of us, including myself have questioned the logic of improving the East Bank sea defences while doing nothing with the West Bank.

I believe that you can’t build up one side without having an impact on the other side, after all this is a river we’re talking about?

I got so wound up about this particular issue that some time ago I wrote a post “The Miracle Of Littlehampton Harbour”. Here’s the link to it, if you haven’t already ready it. It’s worth revisiting, especially now.

When Andrew Walker from the Environment Agency kindly agreed to take part in an earlier interview for the Pier Road Diaries, I asked Andrew about the West Bank and here’s my original question (in bold) followed by Andrew’s answer in italics.

There’s a certain amount of skepticism surrounding these works. Understandable when you consider that the Environment Agency is only enhancing the sea defences on the East Bank, which surely will have a potentially devastating impact on the West Bank. Why has this area of the harbour been left to the mercy of the rising sea levels that the Environment Agency are predicting and what reassurances can you give the residents and businesses of this area that what you’re doing on the East Bank isn’t going to accelerate their demise?

AW: The construction of the new flood defences on the East bank will have no negative impact on the West bank. Once the works are completed the tide will continue to rise and fall in the way it always has done in Littlehampton. You are right though; sea levels are predicted to rise.

At the current time there are a comparatively low number of houses and businesses on the west bank. This means attracting government funding for a major flood defence scheme is difficult.

There will come a point where something needs to be done to improve the height of the flood defences on the West bank of the river Arun in Littlehampton. Much like the current East bank scheme, this future work will need to be delivered in partnership, which means input from local authorities and the wider Littlehampton community will be key to protecting the West bank from tidal river flooding.

—————-

Two important things to note here.

1. The Environment Agency do not believe that the construction of the Sea Defences on the East Bank will have any adverse affect on the West Bank.

2. There ain’t and won’t be any money available from the government to build the necessary sea defences for the West Bank as there aren’t enough houses or businesses here.

With regard to number 1 above.  I have always disagreed with the Environment Agency on this one, (as they know and I won’t bore them again with my logic), but I do hope they’re right and I’m wrong. But I cannot see how raising the bank on one side of a river, as well as taking away the gentle sloping bank will not have an adverse effect on the other side which has not been built up to compensate.

However, in relation to number 2 – It’s easy to see where this is going. The argument is no longer about improving sea defences for the West Bank, but shifting the sand conveniently onto – this area needs lots more houses if we are to guarantee its future.

Something that I am sure will sit conveniently with Arun District Council’s current policy of building as many houses as they possibly can to infuriate as many residents as they possibly can while courting the big name property developers who in turn will pay them cash bonuses (aka – Section 106 monies) to fund their pet projects (St Martin’s Car Park feasibility studies etc), as well as paying consultants to come up with more daft ideas.

As I said, sadly we’re living in a target driven society where common sense is as rare these days as an honest politician.

Our thoughts are with those on the West Bank who’ve been affected by the flooding.