Morecambe Promenade Sea Defence

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 extensive surveys determined that large sections needed replacing or repairs conducting. Atkins was appointed 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, enhancing the local landscape and reflecting the cultural and historic environment, promoting active use and appreciation of the spectacular views across the bay towards the distant Lake district fells. This project has not only regenerated the promenade but is helping to protect thousands of homes and businesses from the impacts of climate change.

The Atkins design team consisted of landscape architects and coastal engineers who collaborated to create something that would be robust as well as beautiful and easy to construct. The landscape architects played a leading role determining the shape, colour, texture and width of the wall, including steps and ramp access features, street furniture, surfacing and lighting, ensuring correct flood level heights were achieved. The engineers focus was on the structural integrity of the solution. We also worked closely with our contractor partner and client to ensure cost and buildability were integrated into the solution. The wall therefore combines artistry and engineering with around 30 wall openings and several “up and over” permanent access points, embellished with motifs reflecting local idiosyncrasies. New planting, surfacing, lighting, play areas and seating enhance the promenade for all users. Materials were chosen to withstand the harshest of environmental conditions with storms and high public use, including part of a national cycle trail, with asphalt and reinforced concrete, re using blast furnace slag and marine grade stainless steel being used.

The sloped profile of the wall 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 can often be associated with. The wall has a smooth face, encouraging human contact, personifying what is essentially a huge concrete structure, making it less liable to abuse. 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. Our 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 fells and relevant patterns and names making them more memorable. 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 cyclists, the elderly and walkers to engage in healthy pursuits. Zero accidents occurred over its 149,000 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 deserves to win an award as it is represents a beautiful and robust response to one of societies major challenges, in tackling the effects of climate change. It 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 and is a wonderful advert for landscape architecture.


  • Project Name

    Morecambe Promenade Sea Defence

  • Location

    Morecambe, Lancashire

  • Category

    Coastal, waterways and wetlands

  • Landscape Architect

    Atkins Landscape and Urban Design

  • Client

    Lancaster City Council

  • Brief

    VBA were appointed to repair and or replace a crumbling concrete sea wall of around 1.1m height originally constructed in 1985. The brief also required adjacent promenade spaces to be upgraded as an integral part of the defences.

  • Awards

    Finalist, Landscape Institute Awards 2019


  • Project Team

    Project team was VBA which is a joint venture comprising Volker Stevin Boksalis Westminster (Contractor) and Atkins the project designers

  • Local planning authority or government body

    Lancaster City Council

  • Year Completed


  • Project Size

    2.57 ha

  • Additional Information

    The scheme was completed 6 months ahead of programme and achieved £3.8m of cost savings at £11.4m completion cost. It was also the Environment agencies highest value for money project in the north west at £1,000 per property against the national average of £12,000. It has also received the highest praise from Central Government, local government, the Environment Agency and residents and users who in a total experience survey on completion 98% gave it a good or excellent scoring. It has also picked up a number of professional awards including ICE, The Environment Agency and Lancaster and district design award.

  • Atkins Landscape and Urban Design

    Registered Practice - (3 - 5 Employees)
  • Approximate Map Location


    Morecambe, Lancashire

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