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Solution to Formby "rubble trouble" one step closer

Rubble spilling out on to the beach at Victoria Road, Formby
Old construction rubble spilling out on to the beach at Victoria Road | © NT Images Annapurna Mellor

For many years the team have been working on a conservation project to remove the rubble spilling out on to the beach at Victoria Road, restore natural processes and reconnect rare sand dune habitats.

National Trust Formby have submitted a planning application to Sefton Council, which details the proposal to restore natural sand dune habitats at Victoria Road by removing the existing beach car park and associated construction rubble. Under the plan, most of the unsightly rubble would be re-used to create a replacement car park further inland. Feedback from visitors, National Trust members, local residents and conservation specialists has helped shape the plan. This conservation project will restore natural processes and reconnect rare wildlife habitats. Acting now will help create healthier habitats for rare wildlife and a more beautiful space for people to enjoy for years to come. If planning permission is granted it is anticipated that work would potentially start on site late 2023.

“This conservation project will help us restore Formby’s sand dunes to their natural state and re-connect important habitats, creating space for wildlife to thrive – it feels like a huge step forward for this special place.”

“Areas of naturally shifting sand create special habitats for rare sand dune wildlife, including natterjack toads and sand lizards. We also know that natural sand dunes can offer really good protection for coastal communities, acting as a natural sea defence if they’re given the space to shift and change over time. The old construction rubble is creating a barrier and stopping natural sand movement”.

- Kate Martin, Lead Ranger for the National Trust’s Formby and Central Lancashire properties.

Sand lizard in Studland, Dorset
Sand lizard / NT Images Ross Hoddinott | © National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott

Where does the rubble come from?

Regular visitors to Formby’s coastline will be familiar with the sight of rubble on the beach at Victoria Road. The rubble is all that remains of the old Harington Barracks, which were demolished after WW2. The demolition rubble was used to form the foundations of the current beach car park. We estimate there to be around 39,000 cubic metres of rubble. Natural processes that create Formby’s shifting shoreline mean that each year more rubble is being exposed.

The proposed solution

This project aims to solve the long-standing problem of the potentially hazardous and unsightly rubble that is spilling out on to the beach. The plan also provides a solution for the Victoria Road beach car park which, since it was built in the 1980s, has seen around 1/3 of its car parking spaces reclaimed by the natural environment and continues to lose approximately eight car parking spaces a year.

Our creative solution would see the rubble processed and reused on site to form the foundations of a replacement car park, further away from the sand dunes. This car park would create a long-lasting car parking solution for visitors at Victoria Road. The car park would hold the same number of cars, but spaces would be more defined with an improved turning circle, making parking more efficient and improving traffic flow on and off the site.

Aerial map of the proposal

The illustrative map below highlights the area where sand dune restoration would take place and the proposed location of the replacement car park. Details of the full planning application can be found on the Sefton Council website here

Aerial map showing the area for sand dune restoration and proposed location of replacement car park
Aerial map showing the area for sand dune restoration and proposed location of the replacement car park | © NT Formby

"This project is part of the National Trust’s long-term goal to look after this very special part of the Sefton Coast for future generations, and create habitats for the wildlife that calls Formby home. Due to the complex nature of the site this project has been a long time in the planning. We’re now ready to share our plans for Victoria Road, with a solution that will bring benefits for both wildlife and people.

“I’m particularly thankful to the Formby residents who have shared their views with us on our conservation work in recent years. That feedback has helped to shape this project and several others. Our team have also worked closely with conservation experts throughout to assess and minimise the impact this work would have on Formby’s precious wildlife, people who love to visit and neighbouring residents.

“Temporary planning permission for 25 years will allow us the time to restore the site and assess the success of the replacement car park. We’re thrilled to have reached this point having explored several options and are hopeful that the application will be successful. Our vision is to create a more natural space for everyone to enjoy and healthier sand dune habitats where rare wildlife can thrive.”

- Vicky Blane, General Manager for the National Trust’s Formby and Central Lancashire properties.

How is this project being funded?

The dune restoration element of this project is part of a wider programme of conservation work happening at National Trust Formby through the UK-wide £10m Dynamic Dunescapes project funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and EU LIFE Programme, which is based on the pioneering idea that dunes which move and change shape are better for nature than those which are stable. The National Trust is funding the remainder of this conservation project, thanks to the support of National Trust members and visitors.

Conservation work being funded at National Trust Formby as part of the Dynamic Dunescapes project also includes;

  • Making notches or gaps in sand dunes where dumped tobacco waste is creating a barrier and stopping natural sand movement.
  • Restoring and creating new natterjack toad breeding pools to give this rare amphibian the best opportunity to increase their declining population.
  • Removing invasive scrub such as sea buckthorn and japanese rose (rosa rugosa) to create space for sand lizards and natterjack toads to hunt, breed, bask and thrive.
  • Creating corridors where the sand dunes meet the woodlands to help these special habitats co-exist.

Our partners

Dynamic Dunescapes partner

Restoring sand dunes across England and Wales for the benefit of people, communities and wildlife.

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