England, East-Sussex & Kent, Bexhill-On-Sea & Hastings

In the United Kingdom spatial challenges are formed due to a significant erosion rate, especially on the southeast coastline, where the soil has a weak resistance to erosion (Masselink & Russell, 2013; Hurst et al, 2016). This erosion causes the soil to be washed away until no soil remains (Dornbush et al, 2006).

Ecology, society and urban environments are at risk in coastal cities due to environmental risks. Protection measures, such as sea walls and embankments, are the primary solutions to today’s erosion risks. These protection measures are often expensive, short-term and can have negative influences on other sections of the coastline. The measures influence the processes along the coastline by interruption of longshore sediment transport (Cooper and McKenna, 2007). Currently, cities and their residents are unable to adapt to this increasing erosion and are often exposed to unforeseen and abrupt events that impact their habitat and, therefore, have an influence on the human livability. In the English context, a regional strategy is needed to find a balance between coastal social justice and the continuing risks of Coastal Erosion (Apine, 2011; Alexander et al, 2012; Cooper and McKenna, 2007), which are further investigated and explained in the thesis.

This project investigates possible strategies for urban environments to adapt to the increasing erosion rates which is the result of climate change and sea level rise. With the use of mixed methods research, a regional strategy is formulated and implemented in local urban designs.

The research method used to achieve the formulation of a strategy is the Data, Opportunities, Challenges & Anecdote (DOCA) method developed by FABRIC (Vafa, 2018). This method uses opportunities and challenges that can be found on a regional scale, but also on the local scale for different coastal cities in the project area. In the thesis this method is used to find local innovation opportunities that can be integrated within a regional urban strategy. This approach considers interdisciplinary and layered approaches with the use of domains that involve defence-resilience, networks, tourism and economy. Within the DOCA method, the six-step approach by Hooimeijer et al (2020) is applied to create a multi-scalar and adaptive planning system.

With the use of both these methods, thesis aims to create an urban design as a response to ecological, societal and urban environmental challenges relating to Coastal Erosion effects and spatial planning strategies. The project’s developed regional strategy aims for Regional Resiliency in southeast England with the design of local Sustainable Urban Environments in Bexhill-on-Sea and Hastings.

Regional Adaptive Spatial Planning Strategy for Southeast England The regional strategy informs the English spatial planning system and aims to create a sustainable region to climate change effects, in particular Coastal Erosion.
Regional Qualitative Spatial Planning Strategy for Southeast England For the regional strategy to work as a well-functioning system a qualitative design is established that is created as a vision of additional qualities to the existing area with the implementation of the regional strategy.
Local Adaptive Spatial Planning Strategy for Bexhill-on-Sea and Hastings In a local scale that include the cities of Bexhill-on-Sea and Hastings, Bexhill-on-Sea can be identified as a city planning for shrinkage due to the urban risks regarding climate change and the lack of economic value and funding to protect this city into the far future. Hastings is defined as a city planning for densification as explained in the regional strategy.
Planning for shrinkage: Bexhill-On-Sea The city of Bexhill-on-Sea is proposed to retreat in a plan for shrinkage with the implementation of Coastal Change Management Areas. In this plan residents of the coast are expected and motivated to relocate to the city of Hastings. This leaves the coastal environment without permanent residents and creating space for ecological regeneration and the opportunity to create an environment where nature is dominant to the urban environment, resulting in a natural coastline.
Planning for densification: Hastings The design for the densification and regeneration model proposes to increase density with a new typology in the regeneration of a potential, inland city centre, that stacks terraced housing typology on a commercial layer and allows terraced roofs to provide a form of the desired housing typology. This new typology includes housing of different sizes to provide for a diverse population with a reference to the victorian period that is recognisable in the average English building stock.