A new sea wall at Black Rock is now complete – marking another stage in the plan to transform the city’s eastern seafront and enable further development in future.
Re-aligned and replaced
As part of the rejuvenation project, the original sea wall, which was deteriorating and in urgent need of repair, has been re-aligned and replaced with a new freestanding wall.
When work on the whole site is completed, in summer 2023, people will be able to enjoy walking along the wall, and new seating and lighting will provide a place to spend time and relax.
Work to construct the wall started in Autumn 2021 when platforms were set up on the beach to enable new 11m long steel sheet piles to be installed, providing the core strength to the new wall.
“Before we could install the sheet piles, we had to probe the line of the new wall to detect any obstructions such as un-exploded ordnance from World War 2,” explained Dan Argles, Contracts Manager for Mackley
“Luckily none were found, and we were able to proceed with our works as planned.”
Keeping an eye on the weather
Once the steel sheet piles had been installed, a reinforced concrete face was cast on the seaward side to provide additional strength and resilience to the steel sheet piles.
Working over the winter period meant keeping a close eye on the weather forecast, rearranging work when needed and battling with the elements.
When Storm Eunice struck, the worst storm to hit the city for 30 years, contractors ensured the site remained safe and were also on hand to help with the clean-up.
Clearing the runners' route
“After Storm Eunice, we stepped in to help the council’s seafront team clear shingle ahead of the Brighton Half Marathon, as the high seas had deposited a high volume of shingle onto the runners’ route!” Dan recalled.
“The joint effort and hard work of our site team and council staff, meant that the race was able to go ahead, and the runners had a clear, safe route!”
The Mackley team also stepped in to move two of the beach lifeguard stations along Madeira Drive. Using cranes brought in to construct the seawall, the towers were relocated ready for the official opening of the Black Rock Boardwalk, another key milestone in the Rejuvenation Project.
The completed sea wall has allowed the Black Rock site to be unlocked for a future development by removing old underground anchors that intruded into the site, and by replacing with a new wall with a much longer lifespan.
The wall not only improves sea defences, but with the realignment, helps to create an area which is more able to accommodate a future development of the site.
Relocating the wall has also enabled the creation of several new areas of vegetated shingle, an internationally rare habitat, as part of a partnership between Brighton & Hove City Council, LUC the designers, Landbuild contractors and Kew’s Millenium Seed Bank.
The new plants are designed to flank the new boardwalk, which runs from the Volk’s Railway Station at Black Rock to the Volk’s Workshops at the bottom of Duke’s Mound, providing a safe, accessible and attractive walk along the beach and access to the rest of the eastern beachfront.
Other work now underway includes restoring the Grade-II Listed Temple and Reading Room which will become places to eat and relax and creating a new pedestrian/cycle route to connect the whole of eastern seafront with the Marina.
In the longer term, this link is designed to allow for a new shuttle along to the Brighton Pier to link up with other bus services at Old Steine.
Councillor Tom Druitt, chair of the Eastern Seafront Project Board, said: “It’s great to see the new sea wall completed and, along with the boardwalk.
“The wall is a key part of the Black Rock Rejuvenation Project, providing us with vital new sea defences, while paving the way for exciting development of this once neglected site.
"It benefits both people and the environment as part of many projects happening to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergency we face.
“This important project is already changing the face of the eastern seafront and there is more to come! A big thanks to everyone who has been involved in getting us this far.”
Dan added: “We are extremely proud to be involved with the project. With Mackleys head office situated less than 15 miles from the site, and with our project team all residing in Sussex, it means that we feel we are playing our part to improve the area for the good of future generations.
“We look forward to the next phase of our work at Black Rock, upgrading the highways infrastructure around the site to improve future access to the development.”