Resilience – Sustainability – Wellbeing 

A new network for research into real, long-lasting, resilient and sustainable infrastructure-led transformations in port and coastal cities and towns​

Ventnor credit: Pauline Bernfeld

iPACT is a new, vibrant, multi-disciplinary community of researchers and research users developing affordable, sustainable, evidence-based, people-centric infrastructure systems solutions for improving social well-being and prosperity to level up coastal communities through resilient, net zero regeneration.

We have c£500,000 available for Pilot Study projects, which will be developed by iPACT members in a series of sandpits in early 2023.

Prof William Powrie, University of Southampton

Despite the potential benefits of a coastal location, many port and coastal towns and cities are run-down, unattractive and underperform in economic and social wellbeing terms. Widespread factors include a poor built environment, derelict industrial and other legacy sites, the decline in traditional tourism and the poor connectivity to the waterfront. Rising sea levels and coastal erosion pose further major challenges. All this demands innovation in rethinking and making our coastal towns and ports more resilient. These issues are common to port and coastal cities and towns all around the UK, transcending simplistic north/south or east/west divisions.

Hastings credit: Ben Guerin

The infrastructure for Port cities And Coastal Towns network – iPACT – aims to identify people-focused, infrastructure-based solutions to the complex problem of improving social well-being and prosperity in coastal communities through resilient and sustainable regeneration. A key emphasis will be on taking advantage of the coastal location.

 Research questions will be based around themes:

  • Connectivity with the coast 
  • Inclusive infrastructure 
  • Maintaining and enhancing resilience 
  • Coastal region transport 
  • Nature-inspired, human scale engineering  

Research will focus on case study sites that exemplify the issues faced by the spectrum of port cities and coastal towns. These are Southampton (the challenges of a working port and lack of public access to the waterfront), Morecambe East (a declining seaside resort with limited local economic opportunities), and North Norfolk (a touristic area of historic communities with an ageing population facing coastal erosion and sea-level rise).   

Southampton Town Quay credit: University of Southampton

Stage 1  WeValue consultations

A series of WeValue community-based consultations has been carried out to elucidate key issues, particularly as felt by under-represented groups and less-heard voices.

Stage 2  Research sandpits

The next step is a series of sandpits, one in each case study location, open to the iPACT network of researchers. The aim of these will be to develop collaborative, infrastructure-related projects to explore potential solutions aligned with community needs. We have funding for 5-10 such Pilot Study feasibility projects at £50-100k each.

Stage 3  Pilot studies

There will then be a period of about 10 months, starting April 2023, during which the pilot studies will be conducted and developed as bases for further funding.

Stage 4  Legacy

The iPACT Network will grow into a thriving and established, collaborative research and user community, which will develop and see implemented sustainable infrastructure solutions to improve the wellbeing, resilience and sustainability of the UK’s coastal settlements for decades to come.

Research Sandpits

City officers Q&A session at iPACT sandpit

Morecambe: 12 & 13 December 2022, Norfolk: 10 &11 January 2023 & Southampton: 20 & 21 March 2023. Each Sandpit ran from late morning on Day 1 to mid-afternoon on Day 2 and commenced with a short tour highlighting points of interest or concern at the location.    

Walking tour of Southampton – WestQuay esplanade and city walls
Container port credit: Nilantha Ilangamuwa

Register your interest

Membership of the iPACT network is open to all researchers and potential users and beneficiaries of the research: from educational establishments, industry and business, local authorities and citizen / residents’ groups. We particularly welcome early career researchers, academics from a wide range of disciplines, and representatives of business/industry, local authorities and the community.  

If you would like to join the iPACT network please contact us by email ipact@soton.ac.uk and find us on LinkedIn