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Harbour Entrance Renewal

Welcome to the dedicated information page for the biggest project delivered by Littlehampton Harbour Board for almost 100 years. Questions not answered here can be sent to or via your Harbour Advisory Body user representative.

Updated: 22nd July 2023

What is the Harbour Entrance Renewal Scheme and why is it necessary?

Littlehampton Harbour Board is in the process of delivering an ambitious project to renew the harbours ageing entrance infrastructure and protect the town and its maritime heritage. The 1920s structures at the harbour entrance are now at the end of their planned life. The various structures, including the iconic timber breakwater known as the “West Works” and the Eastern half-tide training wall known as the “Dicker Works” and others, are subject to constant deterioration by the elements. Furthermore, various changes in local coastal processes have led to an overabundance of shingle on West Beach compared to when the structures were designed, the groyne on West Beach has failed and the harbour’s timber western arm (“the West Works”) is no longer fit for purpose.

In addition to continual inspection and maintenance, the harbour entrance structures have over the past 20 years been the subject of several reports commissioned to assess their expected lifetime and options for replacement. In 2020 a six-month undergraduate engineering design project was sponsored at the University of Southampton to carry out mathematical modelling into the various modern challenges and come up with concept designs for a renewed entrance for Littlehampton Harbour. This was used as the basis for a tender process to appoint our consultants in 2021, Royal HaskoningDHV, to kickstart the renewal scheme. By March 2022, work was complete on an extensive project scoping document which sketched out the various options for solving our challenges, the costs and the benefits of such a scheme. This led to various further work during 2022 alongside partner agencies in preparation for the first round of major works: during 2023 replacing the structures or parts thereof that currently present the greatest risk to public safety and navigation of vessels. Work is also ongoing on the business case for the wider scheme.

What’s happened so far?

Phase 1 of the scheme is the harbour’s biggest capital infrastructure investment in over 20 years and is now complete. further details and achievements of Phase 1 are detailed below:

  • Temporary Works: In order to protect the fragile part of the West Wall from further deterioration and collapse before its replacement later this year, more frequent beach management and shingle recycling than usual was required this year in order to reduce the pressure of shingle on the wall’s West Beach side. Reducing the shingle levels here reduces the load on the wall but also exposes it to wave impacts on spring tides so a Temporary Wave Defence bund was constructed by LHB staff in February 2023 using 6x 5 tonne granite blocks (on loan from Arun District Council) and geotextile bags filled with local beach material. The port’s weather and size limits were also temporarily adjusted for shipping to minimise the risk of a large commercial vessel making contact with this part of the wall. Due to the ongoing risk to the public due to the potential for collapse of the wall, this part of the beach has remained closed (more information below).

  • West Beach Gronye Reconstruction: Between mid-April and early June, we reinstated the timber groyne on West Beach with a more modern, fit-for-purpose gronye which is intended to assist in making the inevitable and relentless arrival of shingle from the west through longshore drift more manageable going forward (reducing environmental impacts, cost of dredging and disruption to residents). It will also help reduce pressure on the fragile West Wall for the remainder of this year. This project was completed on time and 4% under budget. Also during May, we completed a short package of remedial steelwork repairs on the sub-structure of the East Pier to extend its lifetime.

  • Site Investigations: Between mid-April and mid-May, we completed a programme of site investigation including boreholes to confirm ground conditions on West Beach and beneath the riverbed to inform the safe and cost-effective design of the new west wall. This included a Jack Up Barge within the harbour entrance for two weeks. This project was completed on time and on budget.

  • West Wall Reconstruction: Following a necessarily complex initial design and procurement process, we received detailed tenders from four contractors to replace the first 40 metres of the timber West Works with a newly piled concrete and steel wall. Following negotiations, we formally appointed Teignmouth Maritime Services (TMS) on 18th July to undertake the works. TMS worked alongside LHB and our designers (RoyalHaskoningDHV) to complete the final stages of the detailed design taking in to consideration all the site investigation findings. TMS  mobilised on site on the 11th of September with construction works completing on the 1st December

Details of the construction phase:


A piling “gate” was constructed through which the piles were driven to maintain accurate positioning.

The piling gate protruded out from the existing wall and was progressively shifted along the wall southwards until all piles were in place.

As the piles were inserted a steel sheet pile was fitted linking the piles together at the lower levels. Further up the pile concrete “planks” were be fitted to blend in with the existing structure.




What will happen with the scheme in future years?

The later phases are by comparison much more significant in cost and scale but also involve infrastructure with slightly more life left in them. Progress will be driven by the structural lifetimes of each part, the availability of grant or other public funding and investment connected to nearby regeneration projects or other major developments.

It is intended that:

  • Phase 2 should see the replacement of the remainder of the West Works and the replacement of the East Training Wall by 2028
  • Phase 3 should see the replacement of the West Narrows wall by 2033
  • Additional costs for the replacement of the East Pier Sub-structure as part of either phase 2 or phase 3 are subject to Arun District Council’s broader plans for the seafront.


When will we hear more?

Whilst announcements to date have been targeted at those most affected and have been further apart, future announcements will now be wider and more regular as the project gathers momentum and has more visible changes. You can check back here for regular updates, subscribe to our Quarterly Newsletter (subscribe here), on our website hereor on social media here.