Full plans go in to move Coast Road between South Shields and Whitburn in major scheme as coastal erosion threatens route
Plans for a major highways scheme to reposition and preserve part of the A183 Coast Road have officially been lodged.
South Tyneside Council has been developing the project for months which aims to realign a 500-metre section of the route further inland and away from the cliff edge.
This followed specialist surveys which identified ‘critical pinch points’ caused by the erosion of the limestone cliff face and the formation of caves.
New plans aim to extend the lifespan of the route by another 50 years and if approved, would see a section of the road moved further inland between Marsden Grotto and an end point opposite the historic Lime Kilns.
On Friday, July 23 South Tyneside Council lodged a formal planning application with its own planning department for the project, marking the next step in making the proposal a reality.
Supporting documents with the application stressed how important the transport route is in connecting coastal communities, supporting businesses and boosting tourism.
And a design and access statement, prepared by Capita on behalf of South Tyneside Council, also set out further details on the scheme.
It reads: “The scheme is intended as a highway improvement that will maintain the current level of provision associated with [the] route and is therefore designed as a two-lane single carriageway with a shared-use footway / cycleway on the northern side of the carriageway.
“This arrangement is in keeping with the current highway provision to the northwest and south east of the scheme.
“The delivery of this scheme is seen as essential by South Tyneside Council in order to safeguard the continued operation of the A183 and the service it delivers.”
The design and access statement describes the A183 Coast Road as an “essential transportation link” that averages between 7,500 and 8,000 motor vehicles a day, including more than 300 heavy goods vehicles.
In addition, project bosses assessed the ‘recreational use’ of the A183 route with a ‘walking, cycling and horse-riding assessment’ which was carried out as part of the design process.
Discussions around realigning the route began with the council’s planning department in 2020, with a dedicated page now set up on South Tyneside Council’s website providing information and updates on the scheme.
In addition, a presentation providing background and details on the proposals was also given at each of the council’s Community Area Forums.
Highways chiefs previously confirmed construction works are likely to begin towards the end of 2022 and would mostly take place ‘off-line’ to minimise congestion, although some road closures would be needed.
If plans are approved, the former A183 carriageway and footway would be removed and replaced by grassland with the intention being to transfer that land to the National Trust as part of a “land swap arrangement”.
According to the design and access statement, the use of Lizard Lane as a replacement for the A183 may form part of a “longer-term solution” for erosion risks but has been ruled out as an option at this time.
The report explains: “The work required to transform the route [Lizard Lane] into a suitable replacement for the A183 is extensive and would have to include facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, junction improvements, carriageway widening, and land ownership issues.
“These factors, amongst others, have ruled the option out as a feasible solution at this time.
“The indication is that this may form a longer term solution in future but the need to address the erosion risk is seen as time critical so the realignment of the existing A183 has been selected.”
Another potential solution considered was to introduce local defence measures to the cliff face but these were deemed unviable following an assessment by specialists.
The design and access statement goes on to say: “[Specialists] concluded that this would not be a viable option due to the adverse effects it would have on the rest of the bay, since erosion would continue unabated elsewhere.
“The entire bay would require protection which means that the option would be unaffordable and also result in the potential loss of key geological SSSI features.
“Furthermore, it was considered that any coastal defence against marine erosion would not entirely eliminate retreat of the cliff line.”
A decision on plans to realign the A183 Coast Road will be made following a council planning consultation.
Comments on the planning application can be made until August 13, 2021.
For more information on the plans, visit South Tyneside Council’s online planning portal and search reference: ST/0663/21/LAA