Mystery buyer snaps up cliff edge home at Easton Bavents
09:37 17 February 2014
Archant Norfolk © 2014
A house perched yards from the cliff edge at Easton Bavents, near Southwold, has been sold for an undisclosed sum.
The unoccupied semi-detached home at the end of Easton Lane was due to be auctioned by Aldreds in Great Yarmouth on March 13 for a guide price of between £25,000 and £50,000.
However, a buyer was found beforehand and the sale was completed on February 5.
The property suffered severe damage from winter storms leaving it just 26ft away from the cliff edge and in imminent danger of falling victim to coastal erosion, It was sold by East Anglia insolvency and business rescue specialists McTear Williams & Wood.
But while it may seem strange to buy a home that looks set to topple over the cliff, there was a reason to buy it.
Under Waveney District Council planning policy DM22, the new owner of the threatened property could be allowed to stake a claim to build another home in the area as part of coastal erosion mitigation measures.
And as well as the owner of the erosion-threatened property seeking planning permission on land which ordinarily would not be permitted, the Waveney Pathfinder project would see up to £10,000 handed over to them to meet legal costs and further cash could be made available to meet the demolition costs of the semi-detached home.
Andrew McTear, partner at McTear Williams & Wood, said: “We have been very clear about the property’s future and have informed interested parties of the problems. “The only reason anyone would want to purchase it is for the opportunity it affords for the development of another site in the locality.”
The owner of the other part of the semi-detached property is Laura Martin, who says she has long-term plans to move into a caravan further inland.
Between the summers of 1996 and 2009 the average annual rate of erosion at Easton Bavents was 6ft 8in.
In order to help property owners, the £1.5m Waveney Pathfinder Project ratified a scheme that will see landowners who bought their homes before 1998 offered up to £15,000 per property towards the cost of a new plot elsewhere in Waveney and up to £10,000 towards legal costs.
Those who bought properties after 1998 will be offered up to £10,000 towards fees and possible financial support for demolition.
Waveney District Council planning policy DM22 also allows for development in the countryside in the “exceptional circumstance” of coastal erosion where it is the “only way to address a particular need”.
A spokesman for the pathfinder scheme said: “The Waveney Pathfinder Project scheme does not provide blanket support for Easton Bavents property owners who are at risk from coastal erosion.
“Although owners of erosion-threatened properties can seek planning permission on land which ordinarily would not be permitted, there remain strict planning criteria which the landowner would need to satisfy.
“They could not just build what they want, where they want it. DM22 says, ‘Replacement dwellings should have no detrimental impact upon the landscape, townscape or biodiversity of the area’.”
Originally the pathfinder project had looked at re-locating nine homes to land known as the Reydon Smear, prompting fears the beauty spot would be ruined by development.