Bryony Nierop-Reading standing at the edge of her garden, which has recently collapsed onto the beach at Happisburgh.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

‘Only one year left’ fear for Happisburgh cliff-top resident after storm devours garden

Tuesday, December 4, 2012
5.32 PM

A Happisburgh cliff-top resident now fears she could have as little as one year left in her erosion-threatened home after a storm devoured a chunk of her garden.

Bryony Nierop-Reading woke to find part of her Beach Road fence dangling over a sheer 60-ft drop to the North Sea below after a night of strong onshore winds and rough seas.

Mrs Nierop-Reading, 67, said that as a result of the storm, a 10-foot diagonal corner of her garden, including a section of her path and a length of fencing, had tumbled into the sea below.

There is now only 25-30ft of land on the southern side between her bungalow and the brink.

She fears her personal safety could be under threat in another year, forcing her to quit her beloved home.

And she is bitter at action taken by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), which she believes has made her plight much worse.

Mrs Nierop-Reading claims that by removing revetments and “unsightly metalwork” from the sea, NNDC had caused a point of land, south of her property and which protected her home, to erode at a greatly-accelerated rate.

“I am having to seriously consider what I’m going to do,” she said. “The $90,000 question is: ‘Is it going to go any further?’ I’m watching very carefully. If another section goes, it would all become much more urgent.”

Mrs Nierop-Reading was the only permanent resident of Beach Road who refused to sell her home for demolition by NNDC earlier this year.

She believed she might have up to 25 years to enjoy the wild sea views she adores but was angered when NNDC asked the public, at what she claimed was a “flawed consultation”, whether they would like the materials removed from the sea as part of a clearing up and re-landscaping project in the wake of the demolition of nine Beach Road properties.

Mrs Nierop-Reading claimed the questions put to the public were slanted to encourage them to agree to the removal so that the beach area would look more attractive.

An NNDC spokesman said: “All Beach Road residents were fully aware of the plans, the potential risks and the potential benefits, when they chose whether or not to accept the council’s offers to purchase their homes.”

The council had provided some advice and help on removing small beach debris to a local group and the parish council, who now carried out their own beach cleans.

The initiative was good and generally welcomed in the parish. “NNDC will also continue to remove debris as and when it occurs and is accessible,” he said.