Whitby pier repair plans given approval

Whitby piers
Whitby piers

The long campaign to get Whitby’s piers repaired is almost at an end.

Today, Scarborough Council's planning and development committee approved the repair plans for the crumbling structures.

A report on the application recommended giving the green light to the multi-million refurbishment which is planned to take place next year, providing the funding can be sourced.

Both of Whitby’s east and west piers have protected the town from the sea’s wrath since the 18th century, but the Grade II listed structures have fallen into a state of disrepair.

Locals, spearheaded by the Fight4Whitby group, 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, highlighting the need for “urgent” repairs.

The council’s cabinet member for harbours and flood protection, Cllr Mike Cockerill, told the Gazette how recent surveys conducted this year have shown that the original construction of the defences “was far more robust than initially believed.”

He added that the piers are not in imminent danger of collapse, but said “this does not mean that there is any complacency in our ongoing efforts to secure the remainder of the funding necessary to carry out this vital project.”

The planning committee granted listed building consent for the work to be carried out to the borough council-owned structures.

David Walker, the authority’s senior planning officer added in the report: “The piers are vital as coastal defences and as an integral part of safeguarding the harbour.”

As part of the refurbishment scheme, public access prevention measures are to be provided but an original plan to have solid metal gates has been abandoned in favour of chains and posts because of the sensitive environmental impact.

Mr Walker said the 400 metre long piers were now in a “decrepit” state and the multi-million pound coastal defence and pier restoration scheme was needed to protect Whitby.

Historic England said the piers were a major part of Whitby’s history as “a significant port for both fishing and shipbuilding” adding that it gave its support, as does Whitby Civic Society which says the work “is long overdue”.

Mr Walker added: “By reason of their highly exposed location, they are inevitably prone to erosive and potentially destructive effects of the sea and weather.”

Although they are constructed of “robust” sandstone blocks, they still need periodic repairs.

Cllr David Jeffels said the work was "long overdue".