Friday 22 September 2023
The Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure has progressed the project to stabilise the loose cliff material which will allow the steps that provide access to the Clarence Battery from La Vallette to be rebuilt.
Today, a planning application has been submitted to stabilise the slopes either side of the entrance to the former Aquarium and to repair the steps, which were damaged by a landslip brought on by heavy rainfall in 2020.
After progress was initially delayed by Covid and then difficulty in securing design specialists to develop the project, the proposals have now been developed by the States Property Unit in-house engineering team. The detailed design work required to stabilise the cliff faces and reinstate the access to Clarence Battery has now been completed and works will progress.
It is suspected that poor or faulty drainage was a contributing factor in the landslip. As such the application proposes that the restored steps have an improved drainage system, which will be largely concealed in the ground underneath the new steps.
The replacement steps have been designed to follow the line of the existing steps, allowing the intact flights of stairs to remain in-situ.
Whilst the design of the steps has been conceived with the look of the existing ones in mind, they will have clear edges and level surfaces, providing an arrangement more in-line with modern expectations for accessibility. The application includes the use of dark bricks in natural shades, which will help to blend the design into the landscape as vegetation regrows on the adjacent slopes.
The plans include provisions for a steel balustrade painted with a black satin finish. It is expected that this will help the stairs visually sink into the landscape, while providing users with a handrail at a convenient height. A similar balustrade has been installed at the nearby Vive La Vallette café site.
The impact on the natural environment has been limited by keeping excavations on the existing slope to a minimum, and care will be taken during the works to protect hibernating green lizards and to avoid disturbance to hibernating bats.
Marco Tersigni, Infrastructure Officer, Environment and Infrastructuresaid,
"La Vallette not only has a rich history but is an important part of St Peter Port, offering convenient recreational space in an outstanding location. As such, after delays caused by external factors, I am delighted that progress has been made to deliver a long-term solution for the area, which will see the soft material stabilised on the slope, and allow the Clarence Battery steps to be rebuilt, which will enhance the area.
Our engineers have been careful to deal with the fundamental issue that caused the steps to collapse and to integrate solutions that will avoid the same problems recurring, or worse, later down the line. We have also given careful consideration to mitigate the impact of the works on the natural environment and to the surrounding wildlife.
For Islanders and visitors alike who have missed being able to enjoy the beautiful route along our east coast from La Vallette round to Clarence Battery, this welcome news represents the next step as we look forward to the eventual reopening of the steps."