Council chiefs say they have taken a step in the right direction to remedying a battered and breaking-up section of coastal concrete walkway in South Tyneside which has been branded a public danger.
They have confirmed plans are now firmly afoot over the future of a chunk of the Redwell Steps at Marsden Beach, South Shields.
A permanent, weather-proof alternative could replace a crumbling section which leads directly onto picturesque Marsden Beach.
The National Trust, which owns the land and rents it to South Tyneside Council, is also involved in discussions around the site’s future.
The contains a disused lifeguard station and a canoe store which have suffered long-term damage due to storms.
Late last year, the council said the buildings were on the brink of collapse - putting walkers and holidaymakers at risk of injury - and should be demolished.
A spokesman said: “We continue to work with the National Trust to develop sustainable alternatives for the lower section of Redwell Steps to provide access to this area of the beach which remains particularly vulnerable to natural erosion.
“Plans have been drawn up to demolish the existing canoe store, lower section of Redwell Steps and disused former lifeguard station and to reconstruct access steps.
“This scheme will be subject to the planning process and we expect the planning application to be live imminently.”
Any rebuilding project approved by council planners could start in September but would be subject to safety around possible cliff rock fall.
If workers are feared to be at risk, the project would likely be split into two phases, delaying reconstruction until April 2020.
Planners favour keeping the new steps in the same location as those that currently exist, with work taking around four weeks.
The council has already carried out an environmental screening report, which evaluates the likely impacts of a project or development.
It has been compiled on behalf of the Government’s Marine Management Organisation, which monitors marine areas, and the council.
The study identified that work would be on a ‘very small in scale’, and found the condition of the canoe store, lower steps and the lifeguard station as having deteriorated.
It has proposed they are removed to ensure safety of the public and to return the area to a more natural coastline.