A CONTROVERSIAL 7ft seawall will be built across Shoebury Common despite massive opposition from residents.

About 100 anti-seawall campaigners packed into the Southend Council chamber and shouted “shame” as councillors approved the £5.18million scheme, designed to protect more than 350 homes and businesses in Shoebury from flooding, on Wednesday.

Peter Lovett, of anti-seawall campaign group the Friends of Shoebury Common, was disillusioned after a hard-fought two-year battle against the plan, which saw more than 2,200 sign letters objection.

The 67-year-old beach hut owner, of Leitrim Avenue, Shoebury, said: “I have been expecting it ever since I started the campaign, but I’m surprised at the way they have reached their conclusion. They have ignored the public and bullied it through.”

David Norman, chairman of the cross-party group that agreed the plans after a vote of ten to four, threatened to clear the public gallery, where there was standing room only, after a woman shouted out: “Are you going to build the Berlin Wall?”

Committee members of all parties grilled the council officers behind the divisive scheme, which was opposed by more than eight out of ten respondents in a public consultation last year, but council officers assured the elected members, the scheme was the best way to meet their obligation to protect the public.

The new 1,000-yard long seawall, between Ness Road and Thorpe Bay Gardens, will protect 237 homes and 58 businesses around Ness Road, Campfield Road, Admirals Walk, Freemantle, the Towerfield Road Industrial Estate and the Garrison from storms which happen on average every 200 years at current sea levels.

This will rise to 287 homes and 71 businesses by 2062 as climate change causes sea levels to rise.

Workmen could start work on the wall and a grassy embankment against its landward side, formed using 44,000 tonnes of earth from Southend Cliff Gardens, by the autumn.

Ron Woodley, Independent councillor for Thorpe, said: “It will financially destroy Shoebury Common and the job prospects of the whole area.”