AFTER a delayed start, the construction of vital flood defences on the River Arun in Littlehampton has started to gather momentum.
Last month, traders were told the projected completion date of the Environment Agency’s £14.5m flood prevention scheme in Pier Road had been pushed back from autumn to winter this year.
At the time, the delays were blamed on the bad weather and the fact Pier Road was not able to support the heavy cranes.
Now, a supporting crane bridge has been installed and the work has begun in earnest.
Paul Power, director of Coastal Cycles in Pier Road, has been documenting the progress of the flood works on his blog pierroad.co.uk
He said: “They got the bridge in place and now the engineering side of things is working they are moving rapidly down Pier Road. “There’s been a very positive change.”
The sea defences are scheduled to be finished in November this year, with further roadworks being completed towards the beginning of 2015.
However, while the flood defences are seen as essential to the area, traders have been hit hard by road closures in Pier Road and Arun Parade.
Traders are in the process of agreeing compensation packages with the Environment Agency, with many reporting substantial losses.
However, with the flood works now starting and the better weather recently, fortunes have been improving for Pier Road.
A new business, Kay’s Tea Room, is also opening in Pier Road in May.
Paul described last weekend as ‘heaving’ and said visitors had started turning out to see the construction of the flood defences.
“We are starting to get people for that.
“Last weekend Pier Road was heaving. It was the busiest weekend of the year and busy even by last year’s standards.
“We are also getting a lot of engineering types who are interested in it. Now people understand what’s happening they are coming here.”
Businesses in Pier Road have been keen to publicise the fact they are still open despite road closures.
Paul said the appeal of Pier Road is its diversity and the fact shops there are independent.
He added: “It’s the most diverse road in the country. It’s almost like a little Brick Lane in London – it’s got that community feel.
“Every business is individual.
“People think it’s just fish and chips, but it’s not, and we’ve got the best ice cream in the country.”
To read Paul’s blog visit pierroad.co.uk