Residents in Looe divided over £110m flood defence and regeneration scheme

A project to help Looe shake off its nickname as the most flooded town in the UK is dividing opinions in south east Cornwall.

A report by the Cornwall Development Company says flooding in the town has cost Looe £39m in damages to homes and businesses between 2013-2017.

The new 'Looe Flood Defence and Regeneration Scheme' hopes to build a flood barrier, a new breakwater and extend the pier with an estimated cost of £110million.

"It's the right thing to do for Looe," said Nigel Horwell, the development manager for Arcadis on behalf of Cornwall Council.

He said: "The price will outweigh the costs and we think for Looe, one of the most flooded towns in the UK, the argument makes itself."

The view of the preferred plans which see the flood gates, an extension to the pier and a new breakwater Credit: Looe Flood Defence and Regeneration Scheme

There is a long history of proposals for flood defence schemes in Looe.

Petra Stephenson, the volunteer manager at town's museum, believes many of the options available are "ugly" and has worries about how of the Grade two listed Pier might be damaged if it was extended.

Ms Stephenson said: "I do have severe worries about the Banjo Pier because it has such an important part of Looe's history connected with it. It is a really important structure, which I would hate to see anybody muck about with it."

Postman helped through flood water on Fore St, East Looe in 1930. Credit: Looe Museum

Arcadis says only 25% of the funding needed for their project would come from allocated flood defence grants, the rest will need to be paid for by Government money which is dedicated to regeneration.

Stuart Haresnape says he too has concerns about what the preferred option means for Looe and how much is will cost to get the project funded.

Mr Haresnape said: "I'd like to see the other options costed, because it seems that the preferred option is the belts and braces and there's a lot of upheaval or change to look and feel of the town."

Concerns about the environment have also been raised by the Looe Marine Conservation Group, who have encouraged their social media followers to ask questions about the environmental impact of this project.

Flood defence walls have been suggested in previous consultations but many worry they would ruin the view of the harbour Credit: Looe Flood Defence and Regeneration Scheme

The group has received queries about the impact on seagrass beds and any need for dredging.

Robert Jones has run the Tiger Treats of Looe sweet shop for ten years. He believes his shop is the only one left on the harbour which still has flood insurance.

He said: "Something needs to be done. As [sea] levels get higher in probably 10-15 years time, we'll have the same problem that everybody else does."

Robert added that several businesses in town have either gone or closed: "The less people coming to other businesses means less footfall for everybody else, whether you've survived the flooding or not."

  • Watch the latest update from Cornwall Council on the consultation

People living near Looe still have time to share their thoughts with the consultation before Friday 18 November and there is one more Q&A session on Monday 31 October.

Final plans will be published in March 2023 before Cornwall Council sends their submission to Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs.