Mumbles coastal protection project - frequently asked questions
Frequently asked questions about the work being carried out to Mumbles coastal defences.
- Design and environmental impacts
- Impact on residents and visitors
- The future
Why does Mumbles need an improved sea defence?
We want to protect the Mumbles community and property from flooding to benefit residents, businesses and visitors now and for future generations. Without new sea defences the risk of flooding will just keep on rising.
Climate change is making sea levels rise - and that means a greater chance of flooding for some people and businesses based close to Mumbles seafront. We've assessed the condition of existing defences, expected tidal trends, environmental issues and how new defences could be built. We've evaluated a series of options and costs. As a result of that, our suggested approach is to develop a scheme that will significantly reduce to risk of flooding over the next century.
Who says that parts of Mumbles may flood? Where's the evidence?
It's a fact that sea levels are rising due to climate change. Research undertaken by Arup Consulting on our behalf in 2017 and 2018 provided evidence that a number of Mumbles properties are at risk from flooding due to sea level rises now and over the coming years. The prom's relatively low, and it's a relatively common occurrence to experience sea water on the footway. During periods of high tides we install "stop logs" across openings in the car park walls that are set back from the sea wall. The average annual cost of this informal secondary flood prevention measure is around £10k.
Does the seawall really have to be improved?
Yes! Although we carry out ongoing maintenance, the wall's in poor condition due to its age - there are significant cracks and some exposed footings. There's a possibility that it could fail in a major storm. The existing height of the wall is also too low to prevent the anticipated incidents of water coming over the top of the defences due to climate change. A main sewer runs beneath the prom, retained by the defences; failure of the seawall could harm the natural environment as well as homes and businesses.
What's at risk exactly?
Homes, businesses, community facilities, council resources (as we maintain and repair the existing old defences) and tourism income for the area. Despite existing measures, around 79 properties have more than a one in 10 chance of tidal flooding. The ongoing rise in sea levels means this is predicted to increase over the coming decades, with predicted depths and the likelihood of flooding increasing significantly. This would sever vital access to parts of Mumbles and Mumbles Head, including the lifeboat station.
What precise area are we talking about for the work?
The scheme area extends from the slipway on the Swansea side of Verdi's to the Oystermouth Square car park. Mumbles is currently protected by two types of coastal defences; a 0.5km-long mass concrete vertical sea wall that runs from Oystermouth Square to the bowling green area and a 0.7km sloping revetment structure that runs from the bowling green area to near Verdi's. It's our responsibility to maintain and repair them.
And what improvements are you making?
The project will combine enhanced coastal defences with improvements to the existing prom located next to the main seawall. It will support the creation of a sustainable, biodiverse waterfront and provide an asset to the local community as well as an attraction for visitors.
Our scheme will:
- bring the prom up to one level as it currently dips gradually from both ends (Verdi's and Oyster Wharf) by up to around half a metre in the middle section
- strengthen the main structure - this will include a new vertical main wall in some locations and new sloping revetment (or a rock structure) to replace the existing sloping revetment
- replace existing seaward railings along the prom with a low wall similar to that currently situated at the Oystermouth Square car park; it will be topped with a handrail
The aim is to be sensitive to Mumbles as a seaside visitor destination while protecting people and property.
Who's paying for this project - and what does that funding actually cover?
Funding for new defences was secured from the Welsh Government. The key work this funding will be used for includes:
- Strengthen and repair the sea wall (ie the primary defence) and to create new walls and railings at the top of this structure, plus a sea-facing wall texture that, following Swansea University research, aims to boost local ecology.
- Raise the level of the lower stretches of the prom to a consistent height. It currently - imperceptibly but significantly - dips to its lowest level at the Southend slip.
- Resurface the prom
- Widen the prom to make it a minimum width of around 6m. Currently, narrower stretches include that near the bowling green.
- Create secondary defences (including low walls and grassed mounds) along much of the scheme's length. This is needed to ensure maximum effectiveness of the defences - the undesirable alternative would be to substantially raise the height of the primary defences. The grassed/landscaped embankment will be introduced where width is available and will also offer visitors improved views of the bay. The secondary low walls will provide opportunities for additional seating and planting. The solution includes improving existing low limestone walls in some areas.
- Create new parking bays on the northern side of Mumbles Road.
Design and environmental impacts
Who decided on the project's initial seawall design?
The project team - managed by officers from our highways and transportation team - looked at options, taking into account considerations such as cost, the practicality of building work, visual impact, the environment and other key aspects. Their considerations helped determine the preferred solution.
We consulted with the public in 2019. The responses indicated a wish for careful consideration of a number of key points, including the new scheme's visual impact and the effect of the work on the community. These were considered in our subsequent work which saw us and our consultants Amey work towards a scheme that we then showed to the public and other important stakeholders.
Who decided on the final scheme's design?
Following ongoing work, options were presented to the council's cabinet to make the final decision. The public and other key stakeholders had a significant opportunity to influence the scheme with consultations including the formal planning process.
Those being kept up to speed and being asked to comment include: Central Government and Welsh Government, council members, Mumbles Community Council, the public, Mumbles residents, local landowners, local businesses, Natural Resources Wales and others.
How were the dimensions calculated?
To determine the necessary height of the primary defence, modelling was undertaken by Imperial College London.
What improvements are being made as part of work on the wall and prom?
These have been shaped by the thoughts of the people and businesses of Mumbles.
Apart from providing improved defences to protect the community, the process will bring new seating, resurfacing, landscaping, planting and other environmental improvements. The prom is popular with visitors and residents but has a restricted width in some areas; our removal of pinch-points will make it safer, more attractive and more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists. Access to the foreshore for pedestrians and boat use has so far been limited to two narrow flights of steep steps and two slipways; we'll improve access.
Mumbles residents have also given us ideas for the future look and use of key areas close to the sea wall; matters include parking, active travel, landscaping, lighting and play.
One Mumbles USP (unique selling point) is its sea view from the prom - won't that be affected?
No! Our scheme will mean that you'll still be able to walk, cycle, play and skate between Knab Rock and the Oystermouth Square Car Park with panoramic views of Swansea Bay.
Yes, we'll replace railings with walls - but these walls will be of modest height and will protect the people, businesses and facilities at times when flooding could otherwise occur. Our plan is to have hand rails on the walls.
Will you be building out into the sea?
No. The policy of our Shoreline Management Plan is to "hold the line", that is not extending new infrastructure or development into the sea. This gives the greatest chance of maintaining the community and its built and natural assets. Doing nothing is not an option, neither is moving the defence line back - either way there'd be a loss of assets, particularly those behind areas currently protected. If we built into the sea there'd be a loss of beach area and potentially more wave disturbance.
Won't it just mean more concrete in the local environment - a less natural seafront?
A project known as The Sea-Hive, led by Swansea University, involved trialling a variety of hexagonal sea tiles with raised patterns mimicking natural rock surfaces and marine wildlife. The tiles were designed to provide maximum surface area for ocean life to make use of, and to imitate a natural environment. The purpose of the project was to understand which surface provides the best home for local sea life such as seaweeds, barnacles and other creatures. Thirteen different patterns were tested. The most effective pattern at sustaining wildlife was chosen to line the face of the sea wall.
There'll be additional greening of the prom. The scheme seeks to provide around 40 new trees along the length of the promenade. Landscaped areas will be planted with species that are native to the local area, with some already growing amongst the cracks of the limestone walling.
We'll maintain the attractiveness of Mumbles as a visitor destination and as a place to live and do business - so we're working hard with others to deliver the best option.
Will the prom stay the same width?
Up to now the prom has been varying widths, meaning pinch points where it has narrowed substantially. We plan to make it a consistent width so that everybody can use the prom with a share with care approach; this includes families with children who want to play, cyclists and those with mobility issues. This was approved as part of the planning process.
Do you intend to change the area around Hennebont Gardens?
A green area will remain. It will be remodelled to offer improved coastal defences and sea views for the public. This was approved as part of the planning process.
How will trees be affected by this project?
We want no trees to be lost in the construction phase - and are planning for Mumbles to have a greener seafront. Additional greenery and trees will be installed as part of the scheme. The scheme seeks to provide around 40 new trees along the length of the promenade.
Landscaped areas will be planted with species selected to best reflect the local area and seafront environment.
Will there be any electric vehicle (EV) chargers in the parking spaces that are new as part of this scheme?
We're discussing this issue and will publicise decisions in due course. In the meantime, we have EV provision in a number of locations, including Mumbles' Knab Rock and Dairy car parks: Electric vehicles
Impact on residents and visitors
During the work won't this mean lots of upheaval for the community?
Like any major construction project there'll be trucks and other plant on site. Our consultants and main contractors are experienced in this type of work and know they must be considerate to people living in Mumbles, visiting and working there.
Work on the prom will take place in a phased manner - extensive stretches of the prom will remain open at any one time. They plan that their work will have the least impact to Mumbles and the surrounding area.
They want to do a good job and want the community to feel optimistic about it and reassured that this is a plan for the long-term success of Mumbles.
Won't all this have a knock-on effect for parking?
Several hundred parking spaces will remain in the Mumbles seafront area. The position of parking spaces will change, offering improved sea views for pedestrians and cyclists. This was approved as part of the planning process.
What'll happen to the boats that park on the prom?
Boats will still be parked on the seafront near the Pilot pub. The boat parking area at Southend will be landscaped to offer improved coastal defences and sea views for the public. This was approved as part of the planning process.
During the construction work where can motorists park in Mumbles?
Motorists can still use the Dairy Car Park (opposite the Mumtaz restaurant on Mumbles Rd), the Oystermouth Square Car Park (opposite the White Rose and Dark Horse) and the upper level of the Quarry Car Park (off Mumbles Rd, opposite the Dairy Car Park). These are close to the prom, Newton Road and Oyster Wharf.
Before work starts on the sea wall itself, additional permanent on-street parking bays are being created along Mumbles Road, next to Southend Gardens.
Over the course of the scheme, some parking bays will be moved - in a phased manner - from locations such as the Foreshore Car Park, Promenade Terrace and Southend Car Park to neighbouring locations on and around Mumbles Road.
Knab Rock Car Park remains open and accessible throughout as do privately operated car parks in Oystermouth Square and at Mumbles Pier.
Roadside parking is available in Mumbles. Business and homes remain open and accessible. Local residents, organisations and businesses are being kept informed.
How many parking spaces will be permanently lost as a result of this scheme?
By the end of the project, the seafront area (between the pier and the Quarry Car Park) will still have more than 630 formal parking spaces for cars and other vehicles. Drivers and their passengers will continue to enjoy swift access to the prom and nearby streets, businesses, attractions and services.
Parking locations will include the Oystermouth Square Car Park, the Dairy Car Park, the Quarry Car Park, Knab Rock Car Park, parking at Mumbles Pier plus roadside parking on the southern and northern sides of Mumbles Road.
Within this, there'll remain a significant amount of free parking space; paid-for spaces controlled by the council will continue to be priced competitively in relation to such parking in similar areas.
Mumbles' back streets will continue to benefit from on-street parking as now - some unrestricted, some restricted.
Although a number of places will be lost to help protect the community from rising seas, we'll make sure the seafront area will continue to benefit from hundreds of parking spaces. As part of the sea defences project, we're carefully considering the provision of future accessible parking.
After the scheme's completion, we will continue to explore - with local people, businesses and organisations - further solutions for parking in and access to Mumbles.
Mumbles will continue to remain accessible to road traffic, pedestrians and cyclists using the prom and to regular bus services throughout the duration of - and after - the works.
Traffic and access
During the construction work how can people get to and from Mumbles?
Existing traffic routes into Mumbles remain unaffected with, minimal disruption expected.
In the areas along the prom where live work is being undertaken, pedestrians and cyclists will be diverted off the prom for short distances. Diversions will be clearly marked and signposted. Cyclists may be required to dismount through the short diverted areas for safety reasons - or to use the road to continue their journey.
The Swansea Bay Rider Land Train is expected to operate with a slightly shortened route into Mumbles, terminating in the vicinity of the Dairy Car Park (opposite the Mumtaz restaurant on Mumbles Rd).
Road routes from locations in and around Bishopston remain open - as do those from the Swansea direction. Car parking, businesses and homes remain open and accessible.
During the construction work will there be extra traffic disruption in and around Mumbles?
The council and our contractors are working to avoid any significant adverse impact on traffic - and to minimise any disruption. There may be times where some road delays are caused due to deliveries of construction materials and so on. However, this is expected to be kept to a minimum and we aim to keep such movements away from peak hours.
Road routes from locations in and around Bishopston remain open - as do those from the Swansea direction. Car parking, businesses and homes remain open and accessible.
How will Mumbles Road look in future?
Mumbles Road will continue to be two-way, allowing access to local homes, businesses, services, attractions and events. It'll be at least 6m wide, complying with current national guidelines for use by all types of traffic. The city centre Kingsway - a significantly busier traffic route regularly used by large public transport vehicles and construction site traffic - was created to the same Department of Transport guidelines. Mumbles Road will remain suitable for Mumbles traffic flows. Some existing seafront parking is being reallocated next to the road to help accommodate the secondary defences.
So what's the future of the prom?
The aim is to be sensitive to Mumbles as a seaside visitor destination while protecting people and property. Our work on the prom will make Mumbles more attractive to locals and visitors, with a safer, more accessible seafront. It will improve the quality of the space and will make it easier for the Public to move between the prom and neighbouring spaces such as the Southend Gardens children's play area. The prom surface will be hard wearing and designed to have a long life. Design discussions are ongoing.
The promenade south of Oyster Wharf will become more accessible with regular pedestrian access points to connect the promenade with the existing businesses and uses along Mumbles Road. Several bike hubs will be located at regular intervals along the promenade. These will include cycle stands and bicycle maintenance points, with existing shelters located at Oyster Wharf and Verdi's to be retained. Existing access to the beach will be maintained and improved to provide betterment for users.
The furniture along Mumbles seafront has been carefully chosen to reinforce the history of the town and provide more opportunities for social interactions for all abilities. The public realm features will make reference to the area's rich heritage, including reference to the Swansea to Mumbles railway and its importance to the local fishing industry. Interesting and informative interpretation and signage along the prom will provide opportunity for the public to engage in Mumbles' past, present and future.
The new-look prom will reflect the heritage of Mumbles. Features will include references to the area's oyster business, fishing industry, and historic railway line. The people of Mumbles - and visitors - had opportunity to influence the themes of these in public consultation in the years leading up to the construction work. They can continue to have a say at regular public drop-in sessions being held throughout the construction phase.
The improvements being made as part of work on the wall and Prom have been shaped by the thoughts of the people and businesses of Mumbles. They have had a say on matters such as new seating, resurfacing, landscaping, planting and other environmental improvements.
Mumbles residents have given us ideas for the future look and use of key areas close to the sea wall; matters include parking, active travel, landscaping, lighting and play.
You've moved an old boat filled with flowers to make way for the land train's temporary turning circle near the Mumtaz. Will it return?
Our intention is that, in due course, it'll return to the same location - with the goodwill of the landowner. In the meantime, it's being kept in safe storage.