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Cow's Horn access to be fixed

Cow's Horn access to be fixed

Thursday 22 February 2024

Cow's Horn access to be fixed

Thursday 22 February 2024


Work will begin this month to stabilise the collapsed cliff face at La Vallette, paving the way for the steps to The Clarence Battery to be reopened four years after they were covered in soil and rocks.

Also known as the Cow's Horn, the area has not been accessible from La Vallette since the landslide in March 2020.

The steps up from the bottom of the cliff by the former aquarium were destroyed following heavy rainfall and the area was immediately closed off to the public, and has remained shut ever since.

Access to the battery site, and the south coast cliff path network, has been via a footpath from the bottom of Le Val de Terres since March 2020.

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Pictured: The landslide by the Aquarium. Picture taken by James Le Gallez. 

Described as a complex project, the work to repair the damage will begin this month, just a week or two shy of the fourth anniversary of the landslide. It's expected to be finished by the end of this summer. 

The work will be carried out by NSP Foundations Ltd - a Guernsey based firm specialising in 'foundation piling and civil engineering'. 

The work will go through a phased approach of securing the rock faces, securing the lower parts of the slopes, and the installation of a new set of steps which will sit on the footprint of the previous steps.

la vallette cliff repair firm

Pictured: NSP Foundations Ltd has been contracted to carry out the repair works.

Marco Tersigni, Infrastructure Officer, said the final part of the work will involve securing the upper part of the slopes to try and prevent future landslips occurring.

“We’re really pleased to have everything lined up and ready to go on this important project which will secure the rockface in this area for the long-term and, at the end of this challenging project, as the cherry on the cake, we can restore the steps."

The planning application for the repair work to the steps was lodged last September, with research having been carried out over the previous three years to determine what could be done to fix and shore up the cliff face, path, and steps.

At the time the planning application was submitted, E&I had said it had been hampered by the covid pandemic initially and then difficulty in securing design specialists to develop the project.

la vallette planning permission

Pictured: Planning permission was granted in November, with work due to start this month, and hopefully finish by the end of the summer. 

When the cliff face is repaired, the steps will look different with the planned clear edges and level surfaces. The planning application also included the use of dark bricks in natural shades, which E&I said it hoped would blend the design into the landscape as vegetation regrows around it.

The plans also include provisions for a steel balustrade painted with a black satin finish - intended to help the stairs visually sink into the landscape, while also helping accessibility up the steps.

The planning permission also insists that "the species, height and diameter of any replacement trees are appropriate in the interests of visual amenity and bio-diversity given that four trees may be removed as part of the development" while E&I also said it had taken steps to ensure that hibernating green lizards are protected during the repair work. 

Some disruption to parking is expected during the repair works, which Mr Tersigni has said will be kept to a minimum where possible as we enter the busier summer months when more people are likely to use the bathing pools in particular. 

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Pictured: The repair work must be carried out predominantly outside of nesting season to protect any birds in the area. It is starting this month and should be finished by the end of the summer. 

“Inevitably there will be some disruption to parking arrangements while these improvements take place, but we’ve tried to go out of our way to engage with those who use the area, to try limit disruption," he said.

"As far as possible, we’ve reduced the size of the contractor’s compound so that we can retain as many parking spaces as possible.

"While we would have wanted to complete the works during the winter months to avoid these works being carried out during Guernsey’s busiest months for tourists, we have been advised that, for health and safety reasons, the work should be undertaken in the drier months."

To create space for the work to be carried out safely, the turning circle and the part of La Vallette closest to the turning circle will need to be closed. 

This will mean that parking in most of the diagonal spaces on the sea-ward side towards the steps, will be suspended while the work is carried out, however, some of the 10-hour spaces between the Ladies’ Pool and towards the Horseshoe swimming area will be changed to two-hour spaces to compensate for the loss of the short term parking spaces. 

la vallette techincal engineers for cliff face repairs

Pictured: The States used Frederick Sherrell Ltd as its consultant geotechnical engineers. It's not known at this stage which firm will be carrying out the repair work. 

With sea swimming seeming to be increasingly popular, during the winter months as well as the spring and summer months, the bathing pools are often in use. 

David Warr, Chair of Vive La Vallette LBG, said repairing the steps to the Cow's Horn will make the area more popular with more people, and is therefore of benefit to everyone who already uses the pools and surrounding spaces. 

“The Vive La Vallette team is delighted that work on restoring the Clarence Battery Steps is to begin shortly and are grateful to the States of Guernsey for their commitment to this project. Whilst there will inevitably be some short term disruption/inconvenience, whilst the work is undertaken, the medium to long term benefit of reinstating the steps is that once again they will provide access to the Clarence Battery and an important gateway to Fermain Bay and beyond, to the south coast cliffs.

"As part of our long term vision we have always been motivated to help enhance the broader La Vallette area and this project will be an important step towards that objective. The continuing enhancement to the area and facilities at La Vallette is an excellent example of how the private sector can work together with Government to preserve the Island’s infrastructure for the benefit of our community.”

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Pictured: Most of these parking spaces will be suspended while the work to repair the cliff face and steps is carried out.

Mr Tersigni added: "We are grateful that this work has the support of Vive La Vallette and other local groups, and we’d like to thank everyone in advance for their patience while these improvements are carried out.

“Although there is a lot that needs to be done over the coming months, we’re very much looking forward to securing the rockface in the area for the long-term and
seeing a small link piece of our beautiful coastal cliff path restored.”

READ MORE...

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Clarence Battery work put out to tender

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