Urgent repair work needed on Seaham Harbour as breaches – £300million in homes and business at risk

STORM SCENE: Seaham's North Pier during rough weather.
STORM SCENE: Seaham's North Pier during rough weather.
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URGENT work has been proposed to save a pier and protect £300million worth of homes and trade.

Durham County Council believes Seaham’s North Pier has already outlived its time and say if work is not carried out within the next decade, it will fail.

The authority says the structure is the “single largest risk” to the authority, and repair and restoration work is needed to its deck – which is in a poor condition – and joints in the outer and inner walls.

It also says the pier has been breached in three areas.

In February, it was announced £2.3million had been allocated for repairs from a £4million project by the Environment Agency, to deal with flooding in County Durham.

The estimated cost of Seaham’s work is £4million. The harbour dates back to 1831 and the 435 metre-long pier is closed to the public, but accessible to Seaham Sea Angling Club.

The council has put together a planning application to carry out the repairs, and case officer Laura Martin has recommended councillors approve the proposals.

She states in a report: “It has been estimated that the commercial and domestic assets situated along the coastal frontage defended by the harbour and reliant on trade generated by the dock, could amount to a value in the order of £300million.”

It adds this is based on utilities, commercial buildings, homes and roads.

John Reed, the council’s head of technical services, said: “The North Pier is a critical element of Seaham’s coastal defences, preventing coastal erosion and acting as a flood defence.

“However, when the pier was built, it was with the intention that it would be able to withstand the harsh North Sea weather for about 100 years.

“The pier is now at the end of its design life and needs to be refurbished in order that it can continue to protect the town.

“These major works will not only ensure the continued protection of the harbour, but also the coastal area of the town.”

The plans will be discussed by the council’s county planning committee on Tuesday at County Hall in Durham at 2pm.