A £7.6 million plan to save Whitby’s crumbling piers will finally get under way in September.
Last week, Scarborough Borough Council entered into a contract with Balfour Beatty to repair the historic piers.
The saga over when the repairs would be carried out has played out over a decade after a report found ‘major’ flaws in the structure of the North Sea defences.
If the piers were to fail hundreds of homes and businesses could be flooded, causing millions of pounds of damage.
The decision to appoint the contractor was taken by Council Leader Cllr Derek Bastiman (Con) due to a timescale to complete the work as part of a funding grant.
In her report to Cllr Bastiman, the council’s legal director, Lisa Dixon, wrote: “Balfour Beatty’s current contract programme proposes a contract start date of 9 July 2018, a start on site date of 11 September 2018 and a contract completion date of 29 January 2020.
“These dates meet the grant requirements.”
She added that discussions were under way with Balfour Beatty to make up the time lost in the slight delay in signing the contracts. The council states that the actual start day may change but September is the target.
Funding for the project has come from the Environment Agency, which has given more than £4m, as well as the European Structural Investment Fund, the Local Enterprise Partnership, North Yorkshire County Council and Scarborough Borough Council.
It has also been confirmed that the East Pier extension bridge on the piers will be replaced after Whitby Town Council agreed to cover a £120,000 funding shortfall.
Cllr Mike Cockerill, the cabinet member for Major Projects, said: “This is great news for the people of Whitby.
“It is also the third major project the council has brought forward this year and, by the end of the year, we will have brought forwards £32million of major projects this year.”
Locals have been calling on the borough council to act before the flood defences fail, citing a report by Royal Haskoning back in 2009 which referred to a number of major defects on the structures.
The scope of the piers refurbishment scheme will involve strengthening and maintaining the existing structure, including removing damaged masonry blocks and replacing them with sandstone blocks.
The work will also require the cleaning and removal of all marine growth and the repointing of voids between stones.
Built some two centuries ago, the much-photographed piers which have been featured in calendars and holiday brochures nationwide for years, are Grade II listed by English Heritage.
Planning permission was granted in 2017 for the repairs, though plans to replace a floodgate with a flood deflector wall will require a separate planning and listed building consent which has not yet been obtained.