Fighting fund in bid to save shoreline

RICHARD BATSON An elegant seaside village which used to be the haunt of millionaires is going cap in hand to its current residents in a battle to beat a threat to its coastal defences.

RICHARD BATSON

An elegant seaside village which used to be the haunt of millionaires is going cap in hand to its current residents in a battle to beat a threat to its coastal defences.

Overstrand, near Cromer, was known as the village of millionaires, playing host to no fewer than six of them in grand houses and villas, during its heyday at the turn of the 20th century as the Poppyland area was

made fashionable by the euphoric writings of Clement Scott.

Today it is among the necklace of seaside comm-unities which face having sea defences abandoned under an emerging shoreline manage-ment plan which seeks to let nature have its way in all but a selected couple of major resorts.

Like Happisburgh further to the east, Overstrand has been vocal in its opposition over the two years since the "managed retreat" policy was first floated.

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But its local action committee needs to raise fighting funds for its campaigning - and maybe even for topping up the defences themselves.

Overstrand shoreline management committee chairman Simon Davies said it had sent delegates to high-level meetings with government officials in London in a bid to shape coast defence policy, which cost hundreds of pounds.

Replacing and upgrading

sea defences could cost about £6m, but Overstrand was currently only in line for a share of a £2m package of temporary rock works funded by North Norfolk District Council in a bid to "buy time" all along the coast, while officials and campaigners

try to win the bigger battle

at government level for

more protection or compensation.

In an ideal world there would be no need to call on local people to fund a new Save Overstrand Shoreline campaign, said Mr Davies.

But it was important to protect the village to "ensure that what happened at Happisburgh doesn't happen to us" he added, referring to its high rate of erosion where defences had collapsed through old age.

"We would like to think the government would fund the defences, but in reality the money is not there, so we have got to give a helping hand," he added.

While Happisburgh was constantly losing land as its sheer cliffs fell under erosion, Overstrand had different cliffs of sloping slumps, and a promenade which also needed protecting from the sea.

Mr Davies hoped local people would support the SOS fund, which is being co-ordinated by the local residents association.

Association chairman Audrey Brittlebank said it was set up in 1969 to protest at sewage from a nearby caravan site spilling on to the breach, and had always had a watching brief as well as its social side.

Anyone wanting to support the fighting fund should contact the association through Mr Davies at 3 The Londs, Overstrand, telephone 01263 578184.