A history of West Beach

The south coast of Hayling Island consists of a dynamic shingle beach with several control structures in place. Management practices along the wider Hayling frontage consist of beach recycling and recharge. A large recharge of 500,000m3 of material in 1985 topped up the beach at Eastoke in response to repeated overtopping and flooding. Following this, beach recycling has continued to take place annually to reduce the flood risk to the Eastoke Peninsula. More information on the South Hayling Island Beach Management Plan can be found here.

West Beach is situated on the south-west corner of Hayling Island between the Inn-on-the-Beach and the Hayling Golf Club. Structures here consist of a timber revetment and timber groynes which are reaching the end of their residual life. Behind the revetment are beach huts, a car park and a SSSI (Special Site of Scientific Interest) site.

In the early part of the 21st century, the coastline at West Beach was much further seaward and Gunner Point was not the prominent feature that it is today. The construction of coastal defences and other structures have evolved the Hayling coastline to its current shape and position.

It is important to understand the history of these defences. The timber sea defences at West Beach were constructed in 1976 in response to beach erosion, which was attributed to the seaward extension of the defences at the Inn-on-the-Beach. This impacted upon the natural drift to West Beach. These timber structures have been maintained regularly since they were put in place. As Hayling is exposed to large powerful waves, over time the structures have become worn by the action of the waves and are now nearing the end of their functional life.

Figure 1: West Beach Location Map

What is the Policy here?

The most recent North Solent Shoreline Management Plan (2010) recommended a “Hold the Line” policy for the whole of the South Hayling frontage through maintenance and improvements, but allowing the shoreline around the south-west of Hayling Island to evolve naturally with minimal interference. Havant Borough Council’s position is for the timber breastwork and groynes to be removed when they become an unacceptable health and safety risk, and become too costly to maintain. It is likely that these structures will be taken out in stages over several years, as sections fail.

West Beach Defence Maintenance Work

Figure 2: West Beach Maintenance Works

Figure 2 identifies the years during which maintenance works were carried out on the groynes and sloping timber breastwork at West Beach. Within the last 42 years, during only 11 years were no maintenance works required on the structures. The red identifies the years when removal of a part of the timber structure was carried out.

Following storm damage, the western section of the revetment was removed in March 2012 and a further section in June 2013, with approval in principle to remove the remaining sections once the structure became unmaintainable (see figure 1). Since these operations, the previously adjoining groynes became outflanked and rapidly deteriorated. These groynes were submerged at high tide and held very little beach material. As a result, they were removed in March 2018 due to the unacceptable health and safety risk that they posed.

Currently, the remaining revetment and its associated groynes (groynes 53 - 55) are functional despite their age. Their condition is being monitored and decisions on the future of the remaining timber structures will be taken when the condition changes.

For more information on these recent groyne removal works, click here.



Why has the timber been removed and not replaced?

The Havant Borough Council policy for the sea defences at West Beach is to remove life expired structures as they become a health and safety risk. The timber groynes in front of the beach huts at A-Site had become dilapidated and were a significant health and safety risk to the public and to navigation; therefore, the decision was taken to remove them.

In line with the policy, coastal defence structures at this location are not to be replaced at the current time.

What is the policy for this area?

The coastal policy varies along the south coast of Hayling Island; from a ‘Hold the Line’ policy at the east and central areas of the island, to an area of ‘natural evolution’ at West Beach and Gunner Point. This, and decisions taken by Havant Borough Council regarding this policy, determine whether the structures are maintained or removed when they become significantly damaged. The groynes at West Beach were primarily removed due to the considerable health and safety risk they posed from their condition at the time, however the decision not to replace them is driven by the policy for the site.

Is there any monitoring at this location?

In the immediate future, ESCP will carry out regular surveys and monitoring of the beach in front of the beach huts, to capture changes in beach level and slope. To date, surveys have been carried out:

  • The day after the timber groyne removal
  • Two weeks following the removal
  • One month following the removal

A survey will be carried out 2 months, and 3 months, following the removal; and then quarterly for the remainder of the year. We will make images of the data available on our website when ready.

 What is the frequency of survey data in front of the beach huts?

Two different types of survey are carried out in front of the beach huts: profile data and baseline data. Profile data is collected twice a year (Spring and Autumn), and consists of data collected on set profile lines from the car park edge to the Mean Low Water Spring level. Baseline data is collected once a year, in the Spring, and involves the full beach being surveyed to collect levels. This allows us to build a ground model showing the full extent and levels of the beach.

The surveys which we have carried out since the removal of the timber groynes are in addition to these regular surveys.

Who is responsible for the car parks and beach hut maintenance?

The car park surfacing, and maintenance of beach huts, is the responsibility of Norse SE. The car park was re-dressed prior to the start of the Easter holidays (2018), and all pot holes were removed. Unfortunately following the Easter holidays, pot holes have begun to form again.

The repositioning of the beach huts following stormy weather is also carried out by Norse SE. These works were most recently carried out during January and February 2018, following movement in the beach hut position during Storm Eleanor.

What is the long-term plan for West Beach?

The long-term management of the beach huts and future provision at this site is currently sitting with Norse SE and other council teams. The Local Plan sets out West Beach as a regeneration zone in a regeneration area, and therefore plans may develop in line with the Local Plan.

Should future development of West Beach be considered, the results of coastal monitoring at this site will be taken in to account before any decisions are made.

This section will be updated with more information, once the results of the consultation on the draft Local Plan are published.

Can the Environment Agency funding for Hayling Island be used for timber maintenance?

The £3.3million of Environment Agency funding which has been awarded to HBC for works on Hayling Island is for beach management only; this is the recycling and import of shingle. The shingle is placed on the beach at Eastoke to help reduce flood and erosion risk to the properties and residents here. The funding cannot be used for the maintenance of coastal structures. Funding for routine maintenance of coastal structures is sourced from HBC.