A REPAIR project worth £3.4million is set to start this week to ensure a town is protected from flooding and erosion.
The work to Seaham’s North Pier will safeguard about 100 homes and 30 businesses from the deterioration caused by storm waves as they crash over the harbour.
Planning officers said it was needed to protect £300million worth of homes and trade, with the pier to fail within a decade if it was not restored.
It classed the structure’s state as the “single largest risk” to the authority.
The repairs will be part of a joint project between Durham County Council, the Environment Agency and port operators the Victoria Group.
The harbour is protected by two outer piers – the North Pier and the South Pier – which were built between 1899 and 1906.
Although there is no history of damage from the coast being naturally worn away, the North Pier is known to have been breached at least three times and could be at risk of repeated failure during heavy storms in future, if left untreated.
The project will also guard the harbour and the marina development against potential flooding, as well as helping to support tourism and leisure activities in the town, fishing, and habitats for important species of birds.
Repairs will include the restoration of the 435-metre long pier’s deck, joints and inner walls.
John Reed, the council’s head of technical services, said: “This project is excellent news for Seaham as these improvements will not only secure the future economic infrastructure of the town, but will also play a vital part in protecting it against coastal erosion and other major environmental risks such as flooding.”
The council says it aims to create as little disruption as possible around the marina while the work is carried out.
However, there will be times when less parking spaces will be available as there is limited space and only one road in and out.
There will be more spaces available at weekends.
Contractors Carillion will be on-site from today and the work will carry on until November, then start again between April and November next year.
The car park will return to normal between this November and March, when the works will not be in place.
It will also be business as usual for attractions and activities at the marina.