Seafront wall to spell the end for tourism?

FEARS are growing that Weston's tourism industry will be 'sunk' by plans to build a wall along the promenade that would 'ruin' views from the resort's seafront bars

FEARS are growing that Weston's tourism industry will be 'sunk' by plans to build a wall along the promenade that would 'ruin' views from the resort's seafront bars.A picture put together by the Weston & Somerset Mercury (right) shows how a new splash wall proposed to strengthen Weston's sea defences could look.Councillors say the view of Weston Bay from some bars and restaurants would be lost and are concerned many business owners are not aware of the impact.The wall, part of a £7million flood defence scheme put together by North Somerset Council, would stretch from the causeway at Knightstone to the Grand Pier. It would run alongside the edge of the road, opposite the existing wall, and at either end it would be 1.1m high, rising to 1.5m opposite Melrose Car Park. There would be three breaks in the wall with floodgates to let people cross the road at the Winter Gardens, Knightstone Road and Melrose Car Park.The new wall would be built in addition to increasing the height of the existing wall.Cllr Mike Bell said: "The proposed wall will totally change the face of the seafront, potentially ruining views from the bars and hotels along quite a stretch."I'm worried our tourism industry will be further sunk by the plans if we don't get them right."If business people think tourism would struggle we must be prepared to look again at the more expensive options. The council has done its best to consult the public, but I'm worried many will not know what is planned."Cllr Mike Roe said: "People are now starting to wake up to the negative impact this will have on what is one of Weston's greatest assets - the seafront. It is important to protect the town but there were more expensive schemes that many felt would be more visionary for Weston."Originally there were three proposals for flood defences drawn up by the council.The most ambitious cost £50million and involved the complete redevelopment of Knightstone Harbour and the creation of two breakwater walls. Another option, priced at £20million, was for a 25ft high breakwater running from Knightstone slipway towards the Grand Pier to enclose an area of beach.But the council voted to pursue the more economical scheme to raise the existing sea wall by 20cm, build the second splash wall and install drains in the promenade to funnel water back out to sea.A council spokesman said: "We do not think the view will be significantly affected by the proposal."It is only a small number of businesses that will be affected and people will still be able to see Steep Holm and Wales."We have consulted extensively on the plans and people can make comments at any time but we would appreciate any input as soon as possible." The council plans to submit a planning application later this month.

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