Whitburn Coastal Path 'roll back' plans approved to protect walking route from erosion
South Tyneside Council recently submitted an application to its own planning department for the Whitburn Coastal Path, which in its entirety runs from the Whitburn Nature Reserve to the Whitburn Bents area.
Due to erosion and caves forming along parts of the coastline, council officers hoped to prolong the lifespan of a stretch of the clifftop coastal path by moving it further inland.
Details of the scheme were revealed at a council meeting earlier this year, with hopes works would ensure the “longevity” of the coastal route for another 20 years.
Council planning documents state the works are “necessary due to coastal erosion” and would “secure the future provision of this section of the coastal path”.
Works include moving the path inland at varying distances but to a maximum of four metres, with the realigned stretch running from Sea Lane, Whitburn, to south of the former Whitburn Rifle Ranges.
Once completed, the realigned route would be around three metres wide and approximately 1,092 metres long.
In addition, new surfacing is proposed on the public footpaths connecting into the coastal path at Markham Avenue and Rackly Way.
During council consultation on the plans, three neighbour responses were received, including two occupiers at Nicholas Avenue and one at Markham Avenue.
Comments questioned the need for the works and costs involved, given recent council works to the coastal path, as well as some comments about privacy impacts and the loss of land used by pedestrians to “avoid” cyclists.
Council planners, responding in a decision report, said the works were being undertaken following a successful external grant application.
It was also confirmed that the council moved the coastal path inland in two small sections following “small scale” erosion issues in 2019/2020 but that the current application was looking at the coastal path in the “longer term”.
After considering the planning application and assessing it against planning policies, South Tyneside Council’s planning department approved it on December 22, 2022.
A council decision report states the plans would “improve andmaintain access through relocating the existing route inland, away from the eroding cliff edge and provide a suitable surface within the sensitive setting, noting the landscape value of the area and the wider ecological and habitat designations”.
Council officers have previously stressed the importance of the Whitburn Coastal Path as it is part of the nationally designated England Coast Path.
At a council meeting earlier this year, project bosses said the route was already affected by erosion and flood risk but that the council needed to continually assess risks due to “increased storminess and climate change”.
Under planning conditions, works on the Whitburn Coastal Path must take place within three years.
During the construction phase, a temporary compound facility is expected to be set up within Whitburn Bents car park, with another compound also located next to the allotment vehicular entrance on Rackly Way.
For more information on the plans, visit South Tyneside Council’s online planning portal and search reference: ST/0772/22/LAA