Homeowners look on as digger moves in to destroy their clifftop houses
Tearful homeowners look on as digger moves in to destroy their clifftop houses that are inches away from toppling into the sea due to coastal erosion
- Three residents from Hemsby, Norfolk, were forced to leave their wooden homes
- Coastal village, home to around 3,000, has suffered from erosion in recent years
- Pub landlady whose dream home on Norfolk coast is inching closer to cliff face
Tearful homeowners were forced to look on as a digger moved in to destroy their clifftop houses that are inches away from toppling into the sea due to coastal erosion.
Three residents from The Marrams in Hemsby, Norfolk, were forced to leave their wooden homes after high tides cut into the cliffs.
The first of the demolished houses belonged to Sue, who did not wish to give her surname.
Sue claimed that despite living within 1 metre of the cliff’s edge, she did not expect to leave her home so soon and hoped more could have been done to save her home for the past three years.
Along with other neighbours who spent the morning packing their belongings, Sue was previously told she would need to get planning permission for her home to be moved back from the cliff edge.
Homeowners were forced to look on as a digger moved in to destroy their clifftop houses that are inches away from toppling into the sea
Three residents from The Marrams in Hemsby, Norfolk, were forced to leave their wooden homes
The first of the demolished houses belonged to Sue (pictured), who hoped more could have been done to save her home for the past three years
However, there was not enough time and residents watched on as their neighbour’s house was destroyed.
She told the BBC: ‘It’s really annoying, it’s all your hopes and dreams collapsed into nothingness’.
Mary Withey, another resident whose home is being demolished, also said: ‘I’m not OK with it, it’s been my home, I don’t want to move… it’s very sad,
‘When I first heard I was in shock and today I’ve just been tearful, it’s horrible.’
She and her partner had lived in their home for four years before hearing the terrible news.
The head of property and asset management at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Jane Beck, claimed the plans were to demolish all three properties within the day, before the next high tide at 9.38pm.
‘It’s extremely sad for those people and we’re trying to do everything we possibly can to help them through that process,’ she said.
Fire crews were reported to have knocked on doors on Friday, urging those still in the affected properties to leave.
The head of property and asset management at Great Yarmouth Borough Council claimed the plans were to demolish all three properties within the day
Fire crews were reported to have knocked on doors on Friday, urging those still in the affected properties to leave
Noel Galer, Great Yarmouth Borough councillor for East Flegg ward, containing Hemsby, said: ‘I think that the decline when you start to lose parts of it would be quite dramatic. I have a feeling that Hemsby would lose its prominence quite quickly’
Hemsby resident Sue looks out from her home on the cliff edge
Several other wooden properties, built on sand dunes in The Marrams, Hemsby, are also currently at risk of collapsing into the sea.
Noel Galer, Great Yarmouth Borough councillor for East Flegg ward, containing Hemsby, said the village plays an important role in the local tourism industry.
Tearful Mary Withey was forced to remove belongings from her home on the cliff edge
He said: ‘It’s the place where everybody’s children tend to go to get a holiday job when they are 16 in the summer holidays and when they’re at university when they come back.’
The councillor said there are ‘loads’ of ‘little companies’ there.
He continued: ‘You can just imagine with virtually no other industry or commerce in Hemsby, I feel that about 90 per cent of Hemsby’s economy is dependent on their tourism and if you were to lose the next bit of Hemsby.
‘It’s going to be very difficult to see how that holiday industry is going to continue to operate if you start chiselling little bits away from it.
‘I think that the decline when you start to lose parts of it would be quite dramatic. I have a feeling that Hemsby would lose its prominence quite quickly.’
He added that there are ‘precious little other employment opportunities’ in the area.
Residents react as they watch a neighbour´s house get demolished
Sue and other neighbours who spent the morning packing their belongings before the demolition
Several other wooden properties, built on sand dunes in The Marrams, Hemsby, are also currently at risk of collapsing into the sea
Referencing tourism data collected by the council, Mr Galer insisted Hemsby has ‘tremendous value’ in the region.
‘It’s so important,’ he said. ‘It’s difficult to stress how it would be if Hemsby lost 50 metres in a huge storm or a succession of storms over a week or so. It would be horrendous.’
‘Can you imagine that with a large number, a majority, of the bookings for Hemsby holidays coming from home grown areas in the UK, the incredible effect that might have on people thinking: ‘Oh crumbs, we were thinking of going to Hemsby, we better cancel our holiday – looks like it’s going to be closed forever’?’
Mr Galer added: ‘We could have a really bad year now as a result of bad news and people making assumptions over a few days when this sort of terrible thing is happening and lose a lot of business.’
Hemsby is largely built on sand which provides little protection against the raging sea, as pictured here in January 2007, but sixteen years later, on March 1, 2023, any remaining grass was long gone and some of the homes had sand up to their front door
The only access road to properties on the Marrams has been cordoned off and is expected to collapse
The shoreline has shrunk significantly in last 50 years and coastal communities risk falling into the ocean
Read More: Terrified residents evacuated amid fears ‘storm surge’ caused by 50mph winds and high tides could send their cliff-edge homes toppling into the sea
On evacuated residents, the councillor said people will be ‘trying very hard’ to ensure they are looked after.
‘Some people literally have a second home which happens to be very close to the beach,’ he went on. ‘Perhaps they knew the risks and understood the risks, accepted the risks.
‘Others for various reasons may have found this is the only place they can find to live because of the cost and their circumstances and may not be so aware of what’s going on.
‘They may have felt there’s no way this is ever going to be washed away.’
He said that there used to be two further rows of dunes and that there is a footpath on the local map which goes out to sea.
‘You look at the map and think: why on earth is there a footpath going out into the ocean? Well, of course, that’s simply because of what’s disappeared over the last 50 years.’
Hemsby resident Sue removed the last of her belongings from her home on the cliff edge this morning
Properties in Hemsby have been very much at risk in recent years with many properties abandoned as the cliffs continue to slip away
The properties were on the verge of going into the sea as some were as close as one metre
Homes sit close to the cliff edge at Hemsby in Norfolk, where the beach has been closed off because of significant erosion
Hemsby Parish Council is supporting residents who have had to leave their homes
He added: ‘Unless we have some kind of sea defence protection that presumably will continue, especially with the increased energy and the climate weather system that’s hitting our shores.’
Staff from the local authority have been on site alongside crews from Hemsby Independent Lifeboat Crew and Norfolk Police.
Hemsby Parish Council is also supporting residents who have had to leave their homes.
The Environment Agency estimates that 7,000 properties in Britain will be lost to the sea over the next century.
Coastal erosion typically results in a landward retreat of the coastline. This can increase the risk of coastal flooding and result in loss of land
Officials warned that the beach and surrounding area at Hemsby should be avoided
The beach road is closed at the Norfolk village where a number of residents have left their homes
Sudden coastal erosion events, particularly those in the vicinity of coastal cliffs, may directly endanger the lives of people
Police on the scene as the house of local resident Sue is demolished this morning
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