PLANS to improve flood defences at a Christchurch beach could commence within weeks - despite objections from residents.

The proposals to raise a section of Avon Beach promenade by 90cm and widen the area by 1.5m go before Christchurch Borough Council's planning committee on Thursday (12.10).

The application by the council was approved by the borough earlier this year, but the proposals must gain planning permission from the committee.

The £120,000 development for the 250m middle low lying area of the promenade also includes a new 80cm high retaining wall with solar powered led lighting set into planking and two new seating areas.

A recommendation for approval has been given to members in the planning report going to committee.

The 17 objections to the scheme raised concerns regarding the adverse effect on trees in the area, the consultation process for the proposals, and the lights and seating increasing the likelihood of anti-social behaviour.

Christchurch Citizens' Association (CCA) and Christchurch Joint Residents' Associations (CJRA) both object to the development.

Chair of both the CCA and CJRA, Sue Bungey, said: "There's going to be chopping of trees which is not acceptable.

"It will cause a disturbance to the bank behind, I'm sure it will, and that is not a good thing at all.

"Putting benches along the area is a good idea, but one thing we are concerned about is the low level lighting.

"Apart from the fact it encourages anti-social behaviour, if you have got lights at that level the sand is going to blow over it so what's the point in having them."

Despite the objections, the planning officer's report recommends approval of the proposals.

Earlier this year when the plans were submitted, Lindsay Cass, council head of property and engineering, said: "If approved, this scheme will provide better protection of our coastline against predicted future sea level rises and improve the appearance of Avon Beach promenade."

If granted by members, it is anticipated that construction will commence in late October, with completion by Christmas 2017.

Throughout this period the whole section of the promenade will be fenced off.

The existing Avon Beach Ltd timber beach huts and office are set to be temporarily stored at the far eastern end of the promenade until they can be reinstalled in a phased and managed


In summarising the recommendation, the planning officer's report says: "The Avon Beach Promenade Enhancement project will improve the protection of this part of the Christchurch coast against coastal process change, extend the life of an important coastal defence asset, upgrade the access alongshore in the Avon Beach area and will maintain highway safety, and provide the opportunity to increase beach volumes in the future.

"If the project is not carried out it is anticipated that there is a continuing risk of future collapses in existing tarmac surfaced promenade.

"There will be risks of tidal flooding of the promenade and of sand and debris being washed up on to promenade during storm events."