Plans to improve access to Westward Ho! beach are set to move forward next week.

Torridge District Counci is recommended to progress work that will see the slipway extended ‘at the earliest opportunity’ when it meets virtually for a full council meeting on Monday (June 22).

Access to the Blue Flag beach has become increasingly difficult in recent years with named storms and spring tides stripping back material and lowering the level of the beach.

It has meant disabled people and pushchair users have been unable to access the beach at certain times and tides.

The proposals will see a reinforced concrete extension tied into the slipway to take access down below the level of the base of the beach.

The rocks currently used to protect Clarence Wharf car park in Bideford will be transferred to the beach to provide the slipway with additional armour.

Temporary kerbs will be installed in the Bideford car park as a replacement.

The scheme will cost just over £38,000.

Local ward member, Councillor Nick Laws, said: “Sometimes what appears to be a simple job proves to be quite the reverse. Putting an extension onto the Westward Ho! slipway to enable safe access to the beach is the perfect example, requiring the gathering of much information on wave action and the effect of gales in this the most vulnerable of sites must have required much research.

“The slipway has been extended before, each time just far enough, this extension has been designed to solve the problem hopefully once and for all, it will go down through the sand and bedded into the clay.

“I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to the team, their efforts will be much appreciated by all those who will now be able to walk safely down the slipway and onto Westward Ho! beach.”

Members are also asked to approve a scheme to protect the pebble ridge and adjacent premises in the medium term.

The council has been working on a defence scheme with the Environment Agency, but a report to councillors said the recent storms and tides meant the original plans were under review and not likely to progress in 2020/21.

The report said: “In the meantime, the risk of further erosion and a potential breach of the pebble ridge remain. “We have therefore obtained agreement in principle from the EA for the provision of some interim protection measures for the placement of additional rock armour material in front of the private land to the east of the slipway.

“This work has not yet been fully designed or costed, but our engineering team are currently working on the options in order to facilitate the placement of these interim defences ahead of the winter.”