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New breakwater 'is the only solution' to save listed quay

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 07, 2013

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A marina and breakwater are the only long-term ways to preserve one of most treasured features in a North Devon town, a councillor has said.

The Grade II-listed Old Quay Head at Ilfracombe Harbour is in need of yet more repairs which could cost North Devon Council tens of thousands of pounds.

The quay, which is around 100 years old and is regularly used by boat owners and fishermen, has had ongoing structural problems since 2000 which has cost the council around £850,000 to put right.

And now the structure, which is designed to protect the inner harbour from rough water, is in need of more repairs after bulges and cracks have appeared.

Diana Hill, the council's head of property and technical services, said: "The structural issues at Old Quay Head have been a problem for some time.

"The repairs consisted of the installation of tie bars both in 2000 and 2009 and there was also a partial collapse which was repaired in 2007.

"The recent structural concerns came to light in November 2012."

Ilfracombe town, district and county councillor Geoff Fowler said there is not much that can be done without consulting English Heritage because of the quay's listed status. He said: "The way it was built wouldn't meet today's standards, it's very weak in the centre.

"In an ideal world you would knock it down and start again but English Heritage are, understandably, very protective over it."

Mr Fowler said the structure is no longer very effective in protecting boats from wave formations.

He said: "There's a feeling locally that ever since the old round harbour was removed from the end of the pier, waves are being deflected into the inner harbour and avoiding old quay head altogether.

"We are also getting more extreme weather and northerly winds which doesn't help matters."

Old Quay Head is currently reinforced by horizontal tie bars which have been drilled through the structure and are held together by plates at either end.

Mr Fowler says any repairs to the structure will only be a sticking plaster solution.

He said: "In the short term we need to patch up the quay because the harbour is choc-a-bloc and we can't afford to lose any space as a working pier.

"We are hoping to speak to English Heritage soon to find out exactly what would be acceptable to them.

"However, I firmly believe the only long-term solution to this problem is installing a northern breakwater and marina development to even up the water pressure either side of old quay head.

"This is something that has been identified in the draft local plan for North Devon. It's a tricky situation but we need to see the bigger picture."

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