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The Dunedin City Council plans to have detailed designs ready soon for a buried backstop wall to protect sand dunes at St Clair beach.
Councillors will decide when the wall will be built, but designs for budgets and information for a consent application are important if it is needed earlier than expected, parks and recreation staff say.
A long-term plan approved in July 2012 for protecting the coastline along the Ocean Beach Domain, between St Clair and Lawyers Head, suggests the backstop wall should be in place within 10 years.
But parks manager Lisa Wheeler said contingency money for storm repairs had been carried over for the past several years and there was enough spare in the kitty, about $200,000, to do the design work.
The council has not yet budgeted any money for the wall's construction.
Only the first 300m of the wall, from the end of the St Clair sea wall, would be designed at this stage.
That section of the dune system was the top priority, given its steepness and susceptibility to erosion, and the real estate it was protecting.
Council transportation staff raised the work with councillors this week, as a possible solution to concerns about building a shared cycle/pedestrian path in Victoria Rd.
They said the dune protection wall could result in a more ''flat-top'' dune, along which an alternative cycleway could be built ''in the next few years''.
Ms Wheeler said it was likely, in the long-term, a combination of a buried wall and management retreat would be used to protect the remainder of the dunes towards Lawyers Head.
She was writing the brief for the design for the first section of the wall, and hoped someone would be engaged to begin the design work within the next few months.