Moorings at Broads landmark blocked off amid safety fears

The Broadland village of Ludham in Norfolk.
St Benets Abbey.
Picture: James Bass

St Benet's Abbey. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

A number of boat moorings at one of the most iconic landmarks on the Broads have been blocked off - because they could be unsafe.

The Broads Authority has put up a barrier to prevent boats using about half the 300m length of the moorings near St Benet's Abbey.

The authority, which manages the free moorings, says it has taken the action due to potentially dangerous defects with the timber pilings at the moorings.

Wherry Albion passing St Benets Abbey. May 2018. Picture: Mike Page

Part of the moorings at St Benet's Abbey have been blocked off. - Credit: Mike Page

And they say repairs cannot be done until agreement is reached between the Environment Agency and the owner of the site over future responsibility for the piling.

The development of a new flood bank behind the piled edge at the moorings means the piles no longer form the official flood defences there.

So, the Environment Agency is no longer required to maintain them, with the responsibility offered to the landowner.

But the landowners and the Environment Agency have yet to reach agreement, so the Broads Authority's plan to renew its lease for the moorings and to refurbish the timber has had to be put on hold.

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The remaining mooring spaces will still be open for use by the public when the majority of boating activity can start again on April 12, subject to the government's restriction 'roadmap' requirements being met.

Rob Rogers, director of operations for the Broads Authority, said: "We are still hopeful that the issues between the parties can be resolved.

"But until such a time as the Broads Authority can secure a renewed lease for the site, it is unable to progress the urgently needed and expensive refurbishment required to bring the whole mooring to a safe standard.

"The measures taken today are regrettable but necessary to safeguard users of the mooring site.”

St Benet's Abbey is one of the landmarks of The Broads - with the first Benedictine monastery thought to have been founded there in 1019, after King Canute granted land to a group of monks.

The initial mud and timber church made way for a stone one and further donations led to its expansion.

But by the mid 16th century, the abbey was abandoned and most of the buildings demolished, with just the gatehouse remaining.