Dorset Council has secured £2.5million in funding from the Environment Agency to stabilise, protect and repair the historic Cobb in Lyme Regis.
This will be the fifth and final phase of their long-term Environmental Improvement Strategy in the seaside town. The overall cost of the project is expected to be around £3million, with the rest of the money provided by Dorset Council.
The famous harbour and breakwater protect the Lyme Bay area from coastal erosion and flooding. However, structural investigations have shown significant signs of sea-floor erosion, which is gradually destabilising the Grade 1 listed Cobb. The erosion is so significant that, without intervention, the Cobb would no longer work as a breakwater by 2044. This would put over 100 properties at risk of flooding and coastal erosion.
Phase 1-4 of the Lyme Regis Environmental Improvement Strategy started in 1995 with the construction of sea walls and rock armour (Phase 1), followed by foreshore and land stabilisation works to the main town beach and public gardens, completed in 2007 (Phases 2 & 3). Phase 4, completed in 2014, included foreshore and land stabilisation works to the Church Cliff and East Cliff areas of the town, along with a concrete sea wall in front of the existing sea wall, which was in poor condition.
Phase 5, which could start in Summer 2024 and expected to finish the following year, includes proposals for the construction of a sheet pile and concrete toe wall, and a tension pile to anchor the harbour walls. The proposed summer start is to try and isolate the outer wall works in periods when the sea and climate is generally calmer, with an aim to minimise public and business disruption. Plans will also include the resurfacing of part of the Cobb’s walkway and fish landing quay, which is seen to be in poor condition and can restrict access for the less-abled, along with improved utility services.
Dorset Council will work closely with Historic England and other heritage groups to ensure plans are sensitive to the inherent historical and cultural quality of the Cobb. Additionally, Dorset Coast Forum, an independent strategic coastal partnership, will lead on the wider public, community and commercial engagement to ensure that the views and concerns of local users and the wider community are heard. This will mitigate any adverse impacts or reduced access to the commercial harbour, which hosts a variety of business users.
Councillor Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, at Dorset Council said:
“Lyme Regis’s Cobb is a vital structure that protects the town from coastal erosion and flooding, it is also a beautiful, historic, and iconic structure and we need to do what we can to protect it and the town. I fully support the plans to stabilise the Cobb and provide improved access for the public along with an improved working areas for the businesses that rely on the Cobb for their livelihoods”.