Blog: SECBE Awards 2023 Finalist Southsea Coastal Protection Scheme by VSBW JV

17 April 2023

Sustainability sponsored by Faithful + Gould

Southsea Coastal Protection Scheme (submitted by VolkerStevin Boskalis Westminster Joint Venture)

Sustainability Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2023 finalist

Southsea Coastal Scheme is the UK's largest, £176m, local authority-led coastal defence project. It will reduce flood risk and make 10,700 homes and businesses more resilient to climate change, whilst regenerating the seafront. The approach to delivering frontage 1 of 6 is an outstanding example of organisations collaborating to deliver sustainable outcomes.

On Frontage 1, VolkerStevin built a new sea wall, a higher and wider promenade, 18 tide pools, two new bridges, and public realm works over a 350m section. VolkerStevin have already commenced the planning, designing and delivery of the remaining five frontages that will progress over the next five years.

Southsea Coastal Scheme is a Portsmouth City Council project, managed by Coastal Partners and funded primarily by the Environment Agency. Royal HaskoningDHV led the detailed design, supported by Atkins and LDA Design; and VSBW, a VolkerStevin and Boskalis Westminster joint venture was the contractor. The team set ambitious goals and embedded sustainability principles into every aspect of delivery. Notable achievements include:

Zero-waste construction scheme. VolkerStevin reused 23,000m3 of material previously dredged from Portsmouth Harbour to build temporary working platforms. The company developed its own waste processing site and reused concrete and stone from the existing sea defences as fill material. This prevented sending 92,000t of waste to landfill, saved £4m and avoided 24,600 lorry movements. VolkerStevin repurposed demolished sea defences as a temporary flood protection bund, then recycled them again as backfill.

98% carbon reductions achieved. The zero-waste initiatives described above saved 3,950t of CO2, a 98% reduction compared with landfilling. VolkerStevin reduced emissions by installing electric charge points on its compound and encouraging staff to use electric and hybrid vehicles.

Ecology enhanced. VolkerStevin installed 18 artificial tide pools in the rock revetment. Designed to create ecosystems that mimic the natural coastline rock pools, they promote the colonisation of marine life including seaweeds, barnacles, periwinkles and anemones. Coastal Partners’ Environment Enhancement Lead Lucy Sheffield said: “It’s great to leave the coast better than we started, demonstrating that this project is so much more than just a flood defence.”

£12m+ of social value contributed through local jobs, training and investment. This is independently verified in line with the government’s Social Value Model. VolkerStevin engaged 40 local organisations, volunteered 450-hours to community projects, hosted/supported 35+ community events, and donated £4000+ to charities. 72% of the workforce were local. The company recruited five graduates/apprentices and inspired local engineering students through 20+ STEM and work experience events.

Southsea’s rich naval history preserved. VolkerStevin collaborated with Wessex Archaeology and Historic England to carefully recover historic items, adapted designs around the finds and selected materials to complement the history and setting of the historic items/scheduled monument. Following a 19th-century discovery, Historic England Inspector of Ancient Monuments Iain Bright said: “The entire team has been exemplary in their approach to – and understanding of – the importance of Portsmouth’s heritage. By working collaboratively and reacting smartly to this discovery, we have ensured these remains will be preserved as part of the story of the castle and its defences.”


Key achievements:

  • Southsea Coastal Scheme is the UK's largest local authority-led coastal defence project and will reduce flood risk and make 10,000 homes and 704 commercial properties more resilient to climate change.

  • Frontage 1 of 6 officially opened in February 2023 with a new sea wall, a higher and wider promenade, 18 artificial tide pools designed to create ecosystems, two new bridges, and regenerative public realm works over a 350m section.

  • VolkerStevin contributed £12m of social value and its zero-waste initiatives eliminated 92,000t of waste to landfill, saved £4m, cut 24,600 lorry movements and saved 3,950t of CO2.


Client: Portsmouth City Council

Project Partners: Portsmouth City Council, VolkerStevin, Boskalis Westminster, Royal HaskoningDHV, LDA Design


Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2023 Ceremony on Thurs 29th June 2023.


About the Sustainability Award (sponsored by Faithful+Gould): 

Sustainable construction aims to meet present day needs for housing, working environments and infrastructure without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs in times to come. It incorporates elements of economic efficiency, environmental performance and social responsibility – and contributes to the greatest extent when architectural quality, technical innovation and transferability are included.  More info.

>> Find out more about the other Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2023 finalists here

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