Picture: Last resident of Happisburgh’s doomed Beach Road
The last resident of Happisburgh's doomed Beach Road says she has no regrets about her decision to stay until the sea finally forces her out of her cliff-top bungalow.
Bryony Nierop-Reading has only her cats, stunning sea views and nearby sand martins for company after declining to join neighbours who have sold up to North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) and moved away from the fast-eroding coastline.
Mrs Nierop-Reading, 66, says she loves living just 45ft from the cliff edge where she can enjoy the sea in all its moods - but she is 'seriously worried' that NNDC has a 'sub-agenda' to remove or rearrange existing sea defences, allowing wave action to erode the Beach Road coastline unchecked.
Beach clearance and demolition of the vacant homes around Mrs Nierop-Reading, is due to begin shortly as the council seeks to landscape the blighted area for public recreational use.
'I can understand that these houses are a bit of an embarrassment because they are a permanent reminder to people of what we are letting the sea take,' she said. 'My big worry is that there is therefore a sub-agenda to get rid of this corner of the coastline.'
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Mrs Nierop-Reading felt she could not morally accept NNDC's offer of government Pathfinder cash because, unlike her neighbours, she had known when she bought her home in 2008 that sea defences would not be maintained.
'I love the open space and the light. I would find it depressing to be confined,' she said. 'I can practise my musical instruments as loudly as I like.' But she misses lights in neighbouring homes at night, and the knowledge that if she's ill, someone will call with a pint of milk.
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She claims that when she recently asked BT for a landline telephone, the company said NNDC had asked them to remove all the telegraph poles as no-one lived in the road any longer.
An NNDC spokesman said they would be happy for the poles to be retained as necessary. The removal of redundant beach defences was supported by the local community. All the rocks would be staying but some would be slightly realigned to make them more effective.
He added: 'We have always respected Ms Neirop-Reading's wish to remain and have worked hard to ensure that her interests are carefully protected throughout the implementation of the Pathfinder projects.'