- Thérèse Coﬀey, Parlimentary under Secretary of State for the Environment
Morecambe was a small ﬁshing village, growing rapidly in the 19th century to become a popular resort for the expanding industrial towns. Today it is best known as the birthplace of comedian Eric Morecambe. The towns existing sea wall was constructed in 1985 but much of it showed extensive cracking and surveys determined that large sections needed replacing or extensive repairs conducting.
Atkins, Member of the SNC-Lavalin group was appointed to develop a design to replace the sea wall as part of a £2.6bn investment by the Environment Agency to protect more than 300,000 homes by 2021. The scheme sets a new standard in design quality by enhancing the local landscape working with the cultural and historic environment, promoting active use and appreciation of the spectacular views across Morecambe bay towards the distant Lake district. This project has not only regenerated the promenade but is helping to protect thousands of homes from the increasing impacts of climate change and sea level rise.
The design was a blend of artistry and engineering and the new walls sloped proﬁle gives the impression of a wider promenade with elegant outlines reﬂecting the local 1930’s architecture. A warm ivory colour replaces the grey concrete that schemes like this are often associated with. The wall also has a smooth face, encouraging human contact, personifying what is essentially a huge concrete structure, making it less liable to abuse; proven with only one small instance of vandalism to date. The idea was to capture and complement, not to compete with the beauty of the bay. A key part of the vision was to improve safety and access and the design allows for pedestrians and vehicles with ﬂush and ramped solutions providing inclusive access for all ages and abilities.
Access points were highlighted visually to encourage use, with side walls sloped to mirror the distant hills and relevant patterns and names making the more memorable, to ventriloquise the place.
-Janice Hanson, Lancaster City Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for regeneration and planning
Sustainability is at the core of the design with 30% of the wall being repaired with an innovative solution leading to 5,000m3 of concrete demolition, disposal and replacement avoided. The new promenade has also attracted more cyclists, the elderly and walkers, who are engaging in healthy pursuits. Zero accidents occurred over its 149,230 construction hours and on completion of the project, a survey of over 2,000 residents showed that 98% gave a good or excellent satisfaction score.
The scheme deserved its award as it represents a beautiful and robust response to one of society’s major challenges, in helping to tackle the eﬀects of climate change. It both reﬂects and enhances its location, has encouraged more active travel use, more visitors and was delivered with signiﬁcant cost and time savings to wide acclaim from the local community, project funders, maintainers and client sponsors. It is a wonderful advert for Landscape Architecture.