If you visit Milford-on-Sea in Hampshire right now, you might well notice something a little different along the seafront. Wooden beach huts used to be a major feature of this particular seaside resort but after a violent storm a few years ago, they’ve now been replaced by 119 concrete huts that not only provide bathers with somewhere to change but also serve as a sea defence wall to prevent the town from flooding.
Traditional beach huts are certainly charming to look at but they’re not particularly hardy when it comes to storms and bad weather, although according to the Daily Mail, these new concrete versions still have timber doors to help them retain some of the charm that visitors to the beach have come to expect. There’s also a promenade on the roof so that people can stroll across it and get amazing views of the Isle of Wight.
The full refurbishment of the seafront cost £2.36 million, although some critics did question the introduction of the beach huts because it drove the costs of the project up by £1 million.
New Forest District Council’s Steve Cook was quoted by the news source as saying: “They are designed to withstand way in excess of the storm event we had back in 2014. That has always been the benchmark – that the design has been done to. It’s got to be able to withstand in excess of anything we’ve seen here previously.
“Rather than just building a concrete flood defence, or a row of beach huts, why not incorporate one into the other? We had to make them as attractive as we could because, being made out of concrete, they’re going to be there for a long time.”
He went on to say that it was difficult for the architects to strike a good balance between the beach hut aesthetics and the flood defence functionality, but the timber doors do help to achieve a more traditional look.
These concrete beach huts and walls aren’t the only options for those involved in coastal defence management programmes. Sea walls are good because they protect the base of cliffs, buildings and land against erosion and can prevent coastal flooding, but they’re costly to build and can cost a lot to maintain as well.
Another option could be building groynes, wooden barriers that are constructed at right angles to the sea and which allow for beaches to build up and create natural defences against erosion. Boulder barriers could also be brought in, with big rocks piled up on the beach to help absorb the energy of the waves.
There are also soft engineering options that some may find to be more appropriate, such as managed retreat where low value areas of the coast (such as places that aren’t used for housing or farmland) are left to erode and flood naturally. These strategies are often less expensive, more long term and sustainable, and have less of an impact on the environment as well.
For help with marine structure construction, get in touch with Freyssinet today.