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Llanfairfechan residents slam coastal defence plans to increase sea wall height

Conwy County Council

A GROUP of Llanfairfechan residents have slammed Conwy’s plans to heighten the town’s sea wall as part of coastal defence work.

The residents claim a new higher wall will spoil the beach as a local amenity, screening idyllic views and worsening access.

The group is also angry that Conwy will make a free promenade car park a pay and display.

The existing coastal defences in Llanfairfechan consist of a sea wall with rock armour, a sand and shingle beach, and timber groynes.

But Conwy County Council says waves frequently ‘overtop’ defences, causing flooding and damage to nearby properties.

Whilst the council says a secondary defence wall along the road, constructed in 2012, has helped reduce flooding, Conwy says a significant risk remains – and is set to increase with climate change and rising sea levels.

Consequently, Conwy is proposing to increase the height of Llanfairfechan’s existing sea wall along a 725m stretch, by adding ‘200mm and 500mm of new wall’ on top of the existing sea wall.

As part of the same scheme, Conwy also plans to ‘improve’ the promenade car park, with new drainage, installing EV charging points and adding 18 car park spaces in the overflow section.

The council will then make the car park, which is currently free, a pay and display.

Joanna Horton spoke on behalf of the residents’ group against the plans

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“Conwy Council have put forward (proposals) to raise the height of the sea wall at Llanfairfechan, with no other options,” she said.

“This has been done without consultation of the residents and no alternative methods. We struggle to see the data and evidence of the necessity of increasing the sea wall. It has been presented to the residents as a fait accompli (a foregone conclusion).

“On top of this, the council has announced they will close all access to the beach from October to April.”

Conwy council said access would not change under the proposed coastal defence proposals.

Joanna added: “Adding insult to injury, Conwy are then planning to resurface the car park introducing a pay and display to accompany this project. All residents will have to pay to use the car park, no exceptions, no alternatives.”

Joanna then claimed the council was unsympathetic to residents’ opinions, which she claims was demonstrated by an unnamed councillor at a recent public meeting.

“The council refuses to admit there will be a detrimental impact to the residents,” she said.

“Their comment at the council meeting by one of the councillors was ‘That’s life’.”

The residents’ group say they’ve circulated a survey in and around Llanfairfechan, receiving 338 responses, and that 98.5 % of people who took part were concerned with the lack of access to the beach the current proposals would provide.

The group also said the survey highlighted environmental concerns caused by adding ‘thousands of tonnes of concrete to the wall’.

A spokeswoman for Conwy County Council commented, “We first consulted with residents of Llanfairfechan about coastal defence improvements in 2018. This included a drop-in consultation session at the Town Hall on 26 March 2018, where residents expressed strong support for raising the seawall. Since then, we have progressed with this option, finalising plans and securing funding. We shared details of this with residents at a public drop in last month, with information also available on our website.

“Following this week’s storm, our design team will analyse the information and data gathered and will review the submitted plans for any possible improvements.

“There is access to Llanfairfechan beach all year, including throughout the winter via the Sailing Club slipway, which is only closed off by floodgates when a storm or particularly high tide is due. This access would not change under the proposed coastal defence proposals.

“The car park improvements are being funded through the UK’s Shared Prosperity Fund, Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Transformation Fund and Council capital funding. We expect that the improved car park will have car parking charges, which will contribute towards the cost. Blue badge parking will be free of charge, as it is in all our car parks.”

For more information, visit https://www.conwy.gov.uk/en/Resident/Leisure-sport-and-health/Coast-and-Countryside/Seaside/Beaches-and-Promenades/Coastal-Defence-Projects/Coastal-Defence-Improvements-at-Llanfairfechan.aspx