A widow described her shock after claiming her seaside home near the edge of a crumbling cliff had been demolished in just one day.
Sue, who did not want her surname to be revealed, said she only learned on Friday that her Marrams property in Hemsby, Norfolk, would be demolished on Saturday.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she described a frantic rush to strip the property of all its furniture and valuables before demolishing it.
‘The board came and helped remove everything,’ she said, ‘but it was obviously a shock.
The week before, we had a little lost ground and they decided to cut the power.
Homeowners were forced to watch as an excavator moved in to destroy their cliff-top homes inches from crumbling into the sea. Pictured is Su’s home, which was demolished
The images show the gradual deterioration of the cliff edge in the Maroons, Hemsby and Norfolk over the past three decades
But the week I was trying to relocate and move the power pole, the electricians told me they weren’t going to relocate it, because I was going to pull the building over. [away from the cliff edge].
“The people who owned the land allowed it to happen but the council didn’t want to do it.”
A number of other homes in Hemsby had been moved further from the cliff edge and Sue hoped the same would happen to her property.
Asked why this had not happened, Sow said the local authority had insisted that planning permission was required, although she argued that retrospective permission could have been explored.
You might think that in an emergency it would be fair to have retrospective planning, [but] They said they served Section 78 and there was no argument or anything, they would just tear it down.
Ten years ago, five homes in Hemsby fell into the sea after a storm, and the damage to the cliff led to the demolition of others in 2018, as part of an ‘orderly retreat’ by the local authority.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council has told the media it is doing everything it can for the residents concerned.
Despite the shock of the demolition, Sue admitted that the sea had been “dramatic” the week before.
A number of other homes in Hemsby had been moved away from the cliff edge and Sue hoped the same would happen to her property (pictured)
Last week was dramatic, the sea was rough, but you have a lot of factors, you have (we had) the bomb going off and I heard it miles away…according to the papers we had an earthquake that ended in Yarmouth, it must have been the final blow to that [been big]Think of what a tsunami would do. Although it was 3.7 on the Richter scale, it would have had some impact on the sea floor and sea.
Su also said that two new sandbanks have formed along the edge of the cliff recently.
She added, “I think, where we were exactly where we were, the water was pushed even further.”
I had not left the main property I was on. So I’m back here with stuff up to my eyeballs so I’m lucky… I used to live there full time but unfortunately my husband passed away and I had to be behind [here].
Erosion has been really slow in that area, but the tides have changed geographically, it’s different – it’s not the same as it was three years ago.
Three residents of The Marrams in Hemsby, Norfolk, have been forced from their log homes
The first of the demolished homes belonged to Sue (pictured), who had hoped to do more to save her home over the past three years
Mary Withy, another resident whose home was demolished, previously said: ‘I don’t agree with it, it was my home, and I don’t want to move… It’s very sad.
“When I first heard it I was in shock and today I was just crying, it’s horrible.”
She and her partner had lived in their home for four years before hearing the terrible news.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s Head of Property and Assets Management, Jane Beck, claimed the plans were demolished all three properties within a day, before the next high tide at 9.38pm.
“It’s very sad for these people and we’re trying to do everything we can to help them through this process,” she said.
Fire crews were reported to have knocked on doors on Friday, urging those still on the damaged properties to leave.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s Head of Property and Assets Management claimed that plans were to demolish all three properties within one day
Firefighting crews were reported to have knocked on doors on Friday, urging those still in the damaged property to leave.
Noel Galler, a member of Great Yarmouth Borough Council for the East Village ward, which contains Hemsby, said: ‘I think the decline when you start to lose parts of it is going to be very dramatic. I have a feeling Hemsby will lose his fame very quickly.”
Hemsby resident Sue looks out from her cliff-edge home
Several other timber properties, built on the dunes at The Marrams, Hemsby, are currently in danger of collapsing into the sea.
Great Yarmouth Borough Councilor Noel Gallier in the East Village ward, which includes Hemsby, said the village plays an important role in the local tourism industry.
A tearful Mary Withy was forced to remove her belongings from her house on the cliff’s edge
“It’s where everyone’s kids tend to go for a holiday job when they’re 16 in the summer break and when they’re at university when they come back,” he said.
The council member said there were “loads” of “small businesses” out there.
He continued: ‘You can just imagine with almost no other industry or commerce in Hemsby, I feel about 90 per cent of Hemsby’s economy is based on their tourism and if you were to lose the next bit of Hemsby.
It will be very difficult to see how this holiday industry will continue to function if you start to dislodge small portions of it.
I think the reversal when you start to lose parts of it is going to be very dramatic. I have a feeling Hemsby will lose ground very quickly.
He added that there are “precious few other job opportunities” in the region.
The residents react when they see the neighbour’s house being demolished
Su and other neighbors spent the morning packing up ahead of the demolition
Several other timber properties, built on the dunes at The Marrams, Hemsby, are currently in danger of collapsing into the sea
Hemsby is built largely on sand which offers little protection against the rough sea, shown here in January 2007, but sixteen years later, on March 1, 2023, any remaining grass had long disappeared and some houses had sand in front of a door
The only road leading to the properties in Maram has been cordoned off and is expected to collapse
The coastline has shrunk dramatically in the past 50 years, and coastal communities are at risk of falling into the ocean
Referring to tourism data collected by the council, Mr Galler insisted Hemsby was of “enormous value” in the area.
“It’s very important,” he said. It is hard to stress what it would be like if Hemsby lost 50m in a huge storm or succession of storms over the course of a week or so. It will be horrible.
Can you imagine that with a large, majority of bookings for Hemsby holidays coming from home grown areas of the UK, the amazing effect that would have on people thinking: ‘Girls, we’ve been thinking about going to Hemsby, we’d better cancel our holiday – Looks like it’s going to be closed forever “?”
Mr Galler added: “We could have a really bad year now as a result of bad news and people making assumptions in a few days when this kind of terrible thing happens and they lose a lot of business.”
Regarding the evacuees, the council member said people would “do everything they can” to ensure they are taken care of.
“Some people literally have a second home that’s very close to the beach,” he went on. Perhaps they knew the risks, understood the risks, and accepted the risks.
Others may for various reasons have found that this is the only place they can find to live due to the cost and their circumstances and may not be aware of what is going on.
“Maybe they felt there was no way it could be washed away.”
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