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Backlash: Developers under fire after New Brighton counts cost of storm damage
The aftermath of New Brighton’s worst storm for 20 years has brought condemnation that the flooding and devastation was “a tragic but sadly predictable event.”
New Brighton Action Group formed the principal opposition to the original proposals to regenerate the resort, involving proposals to fill in the Marine Lake to create a site for commercial development.
Storm damage: New Brighton prom under water after yesterday's flood
A petition against the venture was signed by around 22,000 people and, following a lengthy public inquiry, the government threw out the scheme. The development was moved to the site of the former New Brighton open air bathing pool which had to be demolished following storm as fierce as this week’s in 1990.
A spokesman for the Action Group said today: “How regrettable that expert evidence, submitted by the Action Group at the public inquiry – warning of the extreme vulnerability of those waterfront sites for development – was largely dismissed.
“This evidence even included video footage of the horrifying magnitude of the earlier catastrophic storm, inflicting fatal damage on the New Brighton Lido – on the very same site of the current retail and leisure development.”
The spokesman went on: “The storm and flooding was a tragic and predictable event and sincere condolences are sent to the organisations, businesses and individuals that have suffered such heartbreaking damage and loss, particularly on the run-up to Christmas.
“The increased bustle and popularity of New Brighton that the development has certainly achieved is applauded. But it is sad that this has been done in such a hackneyed way that is alien to the best of the resort’s character.
“It is a pity that because of prior agreements between the council and a single developer, other potentially more exciting approaches to the regeneration of the town could not be considered, as competition was barred.”
A spokesman for Neptune, developers of the £50m Marine Point venture at New Brighton, said today: “I’m sure people will be saying we shouldn’t have built there, but everything we did was built to stand up to a pretty significant hundreds of years flood event.
“From looking what has happened elsewhere in the country, it was a severe unprecedented event – it was more severe flooding than we expected.
“Everyone seems to be safe – which can’t be said for everywhere – and that’s what we have to be thankful for.”
The car park is presently closed at Marine Point to allow teams to carry out work to ensure businesses can be opened as soon as possible.
Visitors are being asked to park on the promenade and to call restaurants to check they are open.
The Neptune spokesman added: “It is still an ongoing situation. Everyone is pulling together and working very hard to get things up and running.
“One of the issues is that the power is out at the moment because of the flooding so a couple of businesses will be making arrangements to get their own generator in the interim while we get things sorted.
“We would like to thank the emergency services for how quickly they reacted and Scottish Power for doing all they can to get the power back on.”
New Brighton businessman Tony Hurst, whose seafront arcade was flooded in the storms, was also critical of the measures taken to keep the sea at bay.
He said: “All these fantastic sea defences they promised which was supposed to prevent this have crumbled like the Maginot Line – the water has just gone round them.”
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