Mumbles sea defence plan takes next major step

Plans for new sea defences to help protect Mumbles for decades to come have taken another big step forward.

Swansea Council’s cabinet yesterday (note: Thu Sep 29) approved the construction cost and the award of the construction contract. In light of the UK’s financial market instability, it also approved detailed discussions for the council to secure funding guarantees from the Welsh Government.

The council will now present its final business case to the Welsh Government for their approval.

If, approved, the council-driven project – which has undergone several years of careful planning and consultation – will then move towards construction, a phased approach from late this year to around summer 2024.

The council plans to name the contractor publicly in the coming weeks and continues to keep local ward councillors up to date on the scheme which was granted planning permission in April.

It will work with the contractor to keep the public and businesses updated on how the work on this major construction project will be phased.

Andrew Stevens, the council’s cabinet member for environment and infrastructure, told cabinet: “The Welsh Government’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Programme (FCERM) has presented us with a significant

opportunity to implement a sustainable solution to the current issues of the condition of the Mumbles seawall and to address long-term flood risk affecting the community.

“It will also support the potential of future development and regeneration of the area whilst securing improvements to the amenity and recreation value of the promenade and its use as an important visitor attraction.”

The 1.2km project – from Knab Rock slipway to Oystermouth Square – underwent a number of rounds of public consultation before its plans were approved.

Cllr Stevens told cabinet that a tender process to select a main contractor produced a proposed construction contract. He said that most of the cost will be covered by the Welsh Government under its proposed Coastal Risk Management Programme (CRMP). Cabinet approved the figures and the council will now seek specific guarantees from Welsh Government on funding arrangements.

The Mumbles Coastal Protection project aims to protect the community against flooding and rising tides – and to remodel the prom as a safe, modern, inclusive visitor attraction.

The proposals – shaped with the help of extensive public consultation – show more space for pedestrians and cyclists to share the prom with care, the protection of trees and more opportunities for play and relaxation.

Some existing defences are in a poor condition and at risk of flooding. The flood risk level is expected to increase in the future due to predicted sea level rises.

A lack of action would put a number of homes and businesses at risk of flooding. The new development will strengthen the sea wall and raise the height of key parts of it.

Views across the bay will be maintained – and the scheme looks to improve the prom to aid regeneration and tourism.

Work will include widening the existing promenade to create a segregated pedestrian footpath and cycleway. This will improve connectivity and accessibility, and promote sustainable active travel. Other public realm improvements include improved seating, views and connectivity, with enhanced hard and soft landscaping.

Cllr Stevens said: “Visual improvements to the area will create a greener, sustainable and attractive waterfront – an asset to the local community and an attraction for visitors.

“The improved sea defences will protect homes, businesses and leisure areas from the effects of rising sea levels for the foreseeable future.”

The existing sea defences were built more than a century ago as part of a Swansea and Mumbles Railway extension. They have withstood high tides and storms across many decades.