Littlehaven Promenade and Sea Wall

Littlehaven beach lies off the small coastal town of South Shields, South Tyneside, in the north east of England. The beach was backed by a sea wall that was coming to the end of its serviceable life, with increasing rates of structural damage and reduction in its effectiveness leading to the frequent flooding and closure of the car park and amenities located directly behind.

The chosen approach was to realign the sea wall, with a focus on sustainable sea defence and contemporary design.  We then helped the council develop the funding application, secure planning permission and environmental consents and developed the option through to detailed design.  Working with a specialist landscape architect and an artist, we incorporated aspects of high quality amenity and aesthetic considerations into the design concept.

The new scheme consisted of a new, realigned 500 metre sea wall, a more spacious car park, new footpaths, ramps, steps and a restaurant surrounded by trees, shrubs and grassland. The work of local artists is also displayed around the site, reflecting the maritime nature of this setting with sea shanties and poems.

Sustainable sea defence for the 21st century

In addition to its exclusive, sweeping design which defines the beautiful stretch of Littlehaven coastline, the project is unique in its sustainability.

Steve explains: “As well as incorporating the sand dunes into the flood defence system all the materials from demolition and excavation of the existing area were reused behind the new wall to form part of a landscaped area.”

Award winning delivery

Such is the success Littlehaven Promenade and Sea Wall has won two prestigious awards, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) North East Renaissance Awards 2014 for Infrastructure, and the ICE North East Robert Stephenson Award for projects over £4m.

The judges of the ICE North East Robert Stephenson Award said: “An excellent example of partnership collaboration to achieve an end goal, which not only fully complies with the national strategy for flood and coastal defence, but importantly has regenerated a valuable asset which had in recent years become underused.

“Pre-planning took account of natural constraints and existing features to produce a sustainable design, incorporating many high quality environment enhancing amenities.  Extensive community engagement both before and during construction, including an onsite visitors centre was especially noteworthy, as were organised site visits for local school children and college students.”

Key Works:

  • The new promenade and seawall is now in place, stretching along 500 metres of the Littlehaven beach.
  • The beach has been widened by approximately 50 metres.
  • Seating now exists along the full length of the promenade.
  • Trees, shrubs and grasses have been planted, creating a new coastal park.
  • Two pieces of public art are now in place, the Sail is located at the southern part of the site and the Eye in the coastal park.
  • New lighting that can cast a range of colours onto the promenade and artwork has been installed.
  • Reconfigured car park over the southern landward area, replacing the same number of spaces as the previous car park.