Plans have been unveiled to build a 140ft-long concrete tunnel at a Whitstable beauty spot to protect dozens of homes from flooding.
The culvert would be installed where the Swalecliffe Brook meets the sea at Long Rock – an area designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The mouth of the brook is regularly blocked with shingle, causing the stream to back up and water levels to rise.
The long-running issue leaves about 100 homes at risk of flooding as far back as the Old Thanet Way and the railway line near the Chestfield and Swalecliffe station.
Environment Agency (EA) workers clear the mouth of the brook several times a year but there are still times when it becomes blocked and homes are put at risk.
Building the culvert would allow the stream to flow through it and out to sea unobstructed.
A planning application has been submitted by the city council, which fears there will be more blockages as sea levels rise.
It states: “To fix this issue, a concrete culvert 43.6m long is to be constructed at the mouth of the brook, allowing water to outfall into the sea without obstruction during times of flood.
“This will be constructed on a sheet pile and concrete foundation beneath ground level. A tilting weir is also proposed at the upstream end of the structure, allowing control of the flow.”
The structure would mostly be beneath existing shingle levels.
Lead city councillor for the coast Neil Baker (Con) says the EA has been involved with the application and is funding the project.
“There is always a balance to be had and you don’t want to impinge on the SSSI,” he said.
“But at the same time that area is constantly eroding, as we’ve seen with other options which have been tried in the past; especially as it’s been built on the side of a Victorian landfill, and with all the bits that get chucked out into the coast, which isn’t ideal obviously.”
The EA has formally objected to the application but only because there was “missing information” in the submission.
It says it will now reassess the application, which can be viewed on the city council’s planning portal by searching CA/21/02489.