Dorset Council hoping to secure funding for £3million repair works at historic Cobb


DORSET Council is putting forward a business case seeking funding for repair and reinforcement works at the historic Cobb in Lyme Regis. 

The £3million works would form the fifth and final phase of the long-running Lyme Regis Environmental Improvement Scheme, which has helped to protect the town from coastal erosion and landslips through the construction of Gun Cliff Walk and the sewage treatment works, stabilisation of Langmoor and Lister Gardens, re-profiling of the town’s main beach and an extension of the Cart Road, and most recently the construction of Church Cliff Walk in 2015.

Recent investigations have revealed significant signs of sea-floor erosion, which is slowly destabilising the structure of the Grade I listed Cobb harbour.

Walking surfaces on the Cobb are generally poor, restricting access for the less-abled, and the landing quay is not currently fit-for-purpose. Utility services to the Cobb’s buildings and landing quay are also in poor condition.

Dorset Council’s Cabinet is tomorrow (Tuesday) set to consider a business case seeking funding for repair and reinforcement works at the Cobb.

This would involved:

  • Construction of a sheet pile and concrete toe wall on both sides of the Cobb structure at the causeway, the Gin Shop, and the roundabout areas
  • Resurfacing of a strip of the low walkway using historically appropriate materials and techniques at the causeway, the Gin Shop, and the roundabout
  • Resurfacing of the landing quay using modern materials and techniques that are suitable for an active working harbour
  • Improving utility infrastructure to The Cobb buildings and Landing Quay areas
  • Other minor improvements

As owner and coast protection authority, Dorset Council is responsible for maintenance and repair of the Cobb harbour structures.

Since the early 1990s, the council has promoted restoration and strengthening of the structures as part of its Lyme Regis Environmental Improvements Scheme.

This project will provide coastal protection to 37 properties as well as maintain the recreational and heritage value of Lyme Bay, and continued operation of Lyme Regis harbour.

The Cobb is also an important tourist attraction, and its reduced use would have a negative impact on the local economy.

If approved, Dorset Council’s Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management Team will lead and project manage the scheme, with specialist consultants providing professional support.

Pending further discussions with partners such as Historic England, work is proposed to start on site in winter 2023 and completed in March 2024.

Pending further approval by the Environment Agency National Project Assurance Board, the scheme is set to cost about £3million – £2.5million of which would come from flood defence Grant-in-Aid, supported by Community Infrastructure Levy and S106 contributions of £475,000 received by Dorset Council.

Officers will work with key consultees on the project, including local residents, Dorset Council’s Harbours Committee, Lyme Regis Harbour Consultative Group, Lyme Regis Town Council, Historic England, the Environment Agency, Natural England, and local fisherman and businesses.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “Lyme Regis’s Cobb is a beautiful structure and tourist attraction that benefits residents, local businesses and visitors alike, so we have to make sure it is kept strong and safe, while maintaining its Grade I historic value.

“This business plan sets out how we plan to fund these works and I’m more than happy to support its approval.

“Dorset Council has pledged to deliver services in ways that protect our natural, historic, and cultural environments, and to lead and support communities to respond to climate and ecological change.

“This scheme helps support those goals, and we’ll continue informing and working with the local community as the plans proceed.”

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