Location revealed for planned Coast Road move between South Shields and Sunderland - designs being drawn up as erosion leaves route facing collapse into sea

Designs are being drawn up to reposition one of South Tyneside’s most scenic roads to save it from coastal erosion.
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Earlier in 2020, South Tyneside Council revealed plans to move fencing further inland after surveys found that caves were forming under the coastal footpath near the old Lime Kilns.

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Under new plans being developed, the Coast Road – a busy route popular with day-trippers, commuters and residents accessing services – could soon be subject to a similar move.

The Coast Road is under threat from coastal erosionThe Coast Road is under threat from coastal erosion
The Coast Road is under threat from coastal erosion

The council hopes to reposition a section of highway between the Lime Kilns and the caravan site, near the Marsden Grotto.

Subject to final designs and planning permission, the move aims to extend the road’s lifespan by another 50 years.

A council spokesperson said: “Studies have highlighted that due to ongoing erosion of the cliff face and the creation of cave formations within the cliffs, there are certain locations where the A183 Coast Road would, at some point in the future, be compromised.

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“In order to mitigate any future risk, the council appointed a consultant to prepare the design of a local realignment of the road.

A Google Maps satellite image of the affected stretch of roadA Google Maps satellite image of the affected stretch of road
A Google Maps satellite image of the affected stretch of road

“This would extend the road out, away from the cliff top at the tightest point [and] it is presently envisaged that this local realignment would offer a life span of approximately 50 years.

“The design consultant has now produced a preliminary alignment which will allow the environmental assessment work to progress to the next stage and lead to the submission of a planning application which, if successful, will allow us to progress the detailed design and construct the new road alignment.”

At previous council meetings, council officers have said coastal erosion work focuses on ‘adaptation’ rather than ‘protection’, in line with Government advice.

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And engineering solutions, such as ‘infilling’ emerging caves, are unlikely due to the costs involved.

In March, council officers confirmed several ‘high-level options’ for the Coast Road were being explored – including moving the road inland.

Further details are included in a report submitted to the council’s planning department in October 2020.

The ‘environmental impact assessment screening report’, prepared on behalf of the council, states that any habitats removed in the project would be recreated in “the area of the current carriageway being aligned.”

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It goes on to say: “Coastal defences between South Tyneside and Sunderland are under increasing pressure.

“The potential threat of the low water moving landward could result in steepening of beaches, increased pressure on defences and loss of amenity.

“As outlined in the Shoreline Management Plan, it is recommended that, where feasible, construction of new defences will not be carried out.

“Instead, the cliffs will be allowed to naturally erode.

“In order to preserve the stretch of the A183 Coast Road in the study area, and allow the cliffs to naturally erode, a realignment of the road is necessary.”

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