Residents told ‘don’t panic’ over crumbling coastline

Byline: Norfolk Now

A ‘don’t panic’ message was handed to residents of a seaside village yesterday by their MP as they showed him their crumbling coastline.

David Prior said there was no immediate threat to Happisburgh even though erosion rates were increasing and causing concern.

Erosion at Beach Road on the eastern side of the village has hit the headlines as chalets have toppled on to the beach and a bay has formed where the sea has battered unprotected shore.

But Mr Prior said: “There is no short-term problem, no need to panic, nor any need for a blight on property prices but there is a medium- to long-term problem which must be addressed.” He is to seek a meeting with junior agriculture minister Elliot Morley to get a commitment, and to stress protection should not be left until the last minute as it would cause anxiety and cost.

Villagers also met district council officials and Euro-MP Clive Needle last night to call for action at local and European levels.

Action group spokesman Malcolm Kerby said locals were shocked that there had been more erosion in the last three years than in the previous 50years.

Buyer found for clifftop chalet

Byline: Norfolk Now

Going, going – and almost gone. A clifftop bungalow just yards away from oblivion is set to become a holiday home after a for-sale saga which also teetered on the brink for months. Kenrick, the three-bedroomed chalet at Happisburgh, hit the headlines earlier it the year when people from all over the country showed an interest in buying the blue bungalow despite its precarious position on a crumbling cliff.

An Essex woman will finally buy it this week – after three earlier prospective purchasers were put off by erosion of neighbouring land.Estate agent Nigel Hedge yesterday confirmed the sale by private treaty would go through on Friday for around 9500. It is considerably less than the 17,000 offer which originally topped the bidding in a sealed auction back in January, but nearer the price tag he felt was realistic for the chalet – whose lifespan is at the mercy of the elements and the condition of storm battered sea defences.

The buyer, a woman from Chelmsford, did not want any publicity, but was looking forward to using the chalet as a holiday home. Three earlier sales – the top bids in the sealed auction – had ‘fallen apart’ as the bungalow next door was demolished when the crumbling cliff made it a safety risk, added Mr Hedge. But a new campaign among villagers to get action over bolstering sea defences was helping boost confidence in the village, where he had also sold another chalet in Beach Road for 6000.

On Friday night the local action group is holding another public meeting to renew calls for help. Euro MP Clive Needle is being asked what European cash might be available for sea defence schemes, while officials from North Norfolk Council will also be quizzed on their long-running efforts to win Government funding for a Happisburgh protection project. Earlier in the day North Norfolk MP David Prior is meeting villagers to discuss their concerns.

Campaign spokesman Malcolm Kerby said: ‘We are concerned about Happisburgh but we realise this is also a national problem which needs one central body responsible for sea defences and given enough funds to solve the problems.’ Villagers hoped to find a way forward by a three-pronged campaign at district, Government and European levels.