Sunderland City Council has taken the initiative to close the steps leading to Ryhope Beach.
This decision stems from the growing concerns over the safety of these steps due to the ongoing coastal erosion. As a precautionary measure, barriers were installed along Beach Road on Thursday, August 9th, in order to restrict access and ensure public safety.
The concrete steps are a public access point to the beach and were rebuilt in 2011 and repaired in 2018. A programme of work for their replacement is being prepared.
In the last five years, it is estimated the cliff edge on the south side of the steps has eroded by around five metres (16ft) and this erosion rate of the limestone cliffs (soft rock) has undermined the concrete and is weakening the structure of the steps.
Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Member for Dynamic City, Councillor Kevin Johnston said: “We do very much recognise that Ryhope beach is an important community asset and we’re working to ensure that this access point is restored as quickly as possible.
“As a City Council we inspect, monitor and take on feedback about all of our infrastructure, so that’s all of our paths and highways, and we have become increasingly concerned about the steps at Ryhope beach.
“An inspection at the beginning of this month showed that erosion of the limestone cliffs at Ryhope has undermined the structure of the steps and as the cliffs move back more of the sea gets to the steps and further erodes the concrete.
“These tidal and wave actions are making the steps increasingly unsafe as the concrete is eroded, undermined and the structure becomes weaker and weaker.
“As we look ahead to the autumn and winter tides we can expect more erosion and the steps becoming more and more dangerous. So, as we plan a new replacement, it’s in the interests of public safety that we are closing the steps and asking the public to look again at how they get on and off the beach.”