Coastal flooding is a major issue for seaside communities in the United Kingdom. 

Our approach to managing this risk was tested during surge events at Littlehaven on the North East coast of England during December 2013 and proved to be effective, whilst many other areas of the UK suffered extensive coastal flooding. Our solution comprised a new sea wall and promenade for the seaside of Littlehaven.

Working with South Tyneside Council since 2009, we appraised and designed a solution and through 2013 we supervised the construction of the new sea wall and promenade for the seaside resort of Littlehaven. The existing sea wall was suffering from structural damage and foreshore lowering caused by regular wave overtopping and frequent coastal flooding.

The new sea wall has been constructed along an alignment that is set back from the shore, landward of the old failing defence. It is the first coastal defence scheme of this kind in the UK, which deliberately sets back the alignment of a sea wall to a more sustainable position for longer term effectiveness. This unique design approach encourages development of a natural beach in front of the sea wall while reducing the risk of wave overtopping and land erosion. 

Waste materials from demolition of the former wall were re-used on site to raise the levels of the adjoining car park and amenity areas to further reduce flood risk. The sea wall design includes a wide promenade and a stepped terrace down to the beach to provide greater access for beach users. In addition the sea wall alignment has enhanced the scenic beauty of the area by creating a sweeping bay shape.

Councillor Audrey McMillan, Vice-Chair of the Foreshore Steering Group for South Tyneside Council, said: "The investment and improvements being made to the coastline at Littlehaven will provide a wealth of opportunities for the Borough. It will add new dimensions for tourism and give vital protection to homes and businesses from the risk of flooding.