Redevelopment of existing coastal settlements

In many coastal villages, some which were formerly rural support centres but which have more recently become holiday and retirement communities, buildings largely consisted of baches, cribs or small bungalows. As property prices and living standards have increased, and as building standards have toughened up, modest structures are being replaced by much larger homes. In addition, larger sections are being subdivided into smaller lots and vacant sections are being built on, increasing the overall number of houses within a settlement. In some areas where there is high demand for accommodation, multi-storeyed apartments have appeared close to waterfronts.

Replacement and infill housing, if not carefully designed, can be out of scale with existing buildings and detract from the “sense of place” that current residents associate with the settlement. It can also reduce the natural character, amenity and landscape values of the area, particularly if multi-storey buildings are constructed close to the coastal edge or in prominent locations. If redevelopment is located in known coastal hazard areas, or those potentially at risk over a longer term, this can increase the amount of investment at risk and strengthen demands for hard coastal protection works.

Intensification of development can overload existing infrastructure, particularly sewage treatment facilities, leading to pollution of rivers and coastal waters. Poorly managed earthworks can generate sediment. Stormwater runoff can increase, as a result of an expansion of hard surfaces, resulting in greater volumes of sediment and other contaminants entering rivers and the marine area. Existing residents can face rapidly increasing rates bills to fund the upgrading of the infrastructure required to accommodate growth.

If undertaken sensitively, however, redevelopment of existing settlements can keep development within established urban areas. This provides opportunities to help direct development away from undeveloped areas of the coast, while retaining and enhancing the individual character of a community. It can also help settlements adapt more successfully to the future effects of climate change, if redevelopment and associated infrastructure is located away from areas vulnerable to coastal hazards. In addition, it is possible to make more efficient use of existing infrastructure such as roading, sewage and stormwater networks. 

Last updated at 2:12PM on February 25, 2015