Coastguard lookout extension plan by interior designer to Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson sparks Cromer footpath fears

A plan by a leading London interior designer to extend an iconic Cromer clifftop building has triggered fears that a footpath could be lost forever.

Emily Readett-Bayley, who bought the former lookout and gun tower on east cliff for �253,000 in October, wants to build a single-storey back extension with a glazed link and a replacement side extension.

Mrs Readett-Bayley, who paid more than double the �125,000 guide price for the building, runs Posh Graffiti, which supplies houseware to Harrods and numbers celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson among its clients.

Her extension plan would involve re-routing a footpath - a move that is being opposed by the Open Spaces Society (OSS).

Ian Witham, the OSS local correspondent for the north Norfolk district, said the application, which proposes diverting footpath 11 onto a main path closer to the cliffs, would have a 'serious, permanent effect'.

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He said: 'The applicant proposes to build across the line of the path, and apparently to seek to permanently divert the line of footpath 11 onto that of an already well used path to the north.

'We feel that this would be tantamount to the permanent loss of footpath 11. There is no route onto which it appears to us that footpath 11 could reasonably be diverted and retain its current amenity value to the public.'

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He also claimed the proposed extension would 'detract severely from the established character and appearance' of the building.

Mrs Readett-Bayley said it was a problem she had inherited when she bought The Lookout as the footpath predated the building. She said she had also taken the fencing down when asked to, so the part of the footpath through her property was now clear.

She said: 'The bit through my property is now clear but the rest of the footpath itself is quite overgrown. It is a very old footpath and it has been ignored for many years. I have inherited the problem, it has been going on quite a while.

'Hopefully it will be resolved in a favourable way so everybody is happy. It is now in the hands of the planners.'

In planning documents submitted with the application, which is currently under consultation, it states The Lookout is not a listed building and that the 'simple extension' would be used to create a larger living room and kitchen for the family living there.

It adds: 'The Lookout will remain almost entirely unaltered when seen from most strategic view points, in as much as it can be seen, due to its position flanked by mature trees to the south, east and west.'

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