Littlehampton flood wall costs soar as weather delays take toll

Businesses in Pier Road were hemmed in last summer as the flood scheme progressed
Businesses in Pier Road were hemmed in last summer as the flood scheme progressed

TRADERS affected by lengthy delays in building Littlehampton’s new flood defences are to receive extra compensation.

The Environment Agency confirmed this week that the pay-outs, thought to be for businesses in Pier Road, Arun Parade and the Arun View pub/restaurant, together with the wettest winter on record last year, were factors in the overall cost of the scheme spiralling upwards by more than 50 per cent.

The agency has secured £8 million of additional Government funding for the project, originally costed at approximately £14.5 million. When completed in the spring, the new tidal wall along most of the River Arun, from its mouth to beyond the A259 bridge, will protect 748 homes and 340 business premises.

A spokesman for the agency told the Gazette: “The challenges faced by the project team included the wettest winter on record, which made all construction work impossible during a period of three months, equipment and plant issues and problems with the detailed design that needed to be rectified.

“These unforeseen delays then resulted in increased compensation for the traders affected by the works. Due to these complex onsite issues during the construction phase, this increased the budget to £22.1 million. These cost increases, while unfortunate, are absolutely critical in protecting people and property in Littlehampton. Although the project funding has increased, when complete the scheme will protect nearly £188.5 million worth of homes, businesses, local infrastructure and assets.

“This investment provides an excellent cost/benefit ratio and value for taxpayers’ money, as well as considerably reducing the risk of flooding to the district, whilst regenerating the heart of the town as a whole.”

Paul Power, of Coastal Cycles, in Pier Road, said he and other traders had had to fight all the way for their compensation. At one point, he threatened the agency with legal action unless payments were made up front, after which it agreed to make interim awards.

“This scheme was supposed to be finished before the summer of last year and it’s still not completed now. The impact on the businesses in Pier Road has been huge, and for us has been enormous. We have lost the main cycle franchises we had, including electric bikes, which were a major part of our business.

“We do have new suppliers now, but are having to build our business up again. It’s like starting from scratch, where we were ten years ago.”

Arun District Council and others are funding £1 million-plus of riverside enhancements to complete the scheme.