Homes may be left to the sea

Villagers in Corton reacted angrily to a coastal scheme which could allow 100 properties to crumble into the sea during the next century.Homeowners said they felt “abandoned” by the Shoreline Management Plan adopted by Waveney councillors on Thursday which downgrades the protection of their village, leaving homes and businesses at the mercy of the sea.

Villagers in Corton reacted angrily to a coastal scheme which could allow 100 properties to crumble into the sea during the next century.

Homeowners said they felt “abandoned” by the Shoreline Management Plan adopted by Waveney councillors on Thursday which downgrades the protection of their village, leaving homes and businesses at the mercy of the sea.

The defence strategy for Corton, near Lowestoft, was changed from “hold the line” to “managed realignment”, meaning that although some localised works will still be carried out, the existing line of defences will not be replaced when they reach the end of their lifespan in 20 to 30 years.

Forecasts for the resulting coastal erosion show that 40 buildings will be lost from the land on the seaward side of Corton Road and The Street by 2055. By 2105, a further 60 properties in the village could be claimed by the receding cliffs.

Coastal planners said that government policy dictated there was insufficient financial justification to invest in protecting the village, but studies were under way to relocate those affected.

Alistair McLeod, 65, and his 63-year-old wife Joy bought a three-bedroom house 100 metres from the clifftop on The Street last year. “We have been abandoned,” said Mr McLeod. “We bought the house and completely refurbished it on the understanding that the defences would be maintained.

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“If this is their plan then they have completely devalued our property. If we wanted to sell this now it would be impossible.”

Mrs McLeod said: “It is really disturbing - it affects our whole financial situation.”

Coastal officers were forced to review the earlier policy of holding the line at Corton when heavy scouring of the beach between 1999 and 2002 proved that it was not sustainable.

Government grants only allowed enough money for the existing 20-year sea wall, which was built in 2005 at a cost of £3.5m.

Julian Walker, principal service manager for coast protection, said: “There is not sufficient development and economic value in that area to justify government funds to undertake very high-cost coastal defences in the future.

“It might cost £10m to give protection to the Corton village frontage. Unfortunately, the value of the houses that scheme would protect does not come up to that figure.

“It is a government requirement that you do not spend more money to protect than the value of the houses. There are heavy constraints and we have got be realistic.”

Mr Walker said property owners would be offered help with relocation, but current legislation meant that compensation was not payable for property lost to coastal erosion.

David Butcher, chairman of Corton Parish Council, said: “There is a mortgage blight on the east side of our high street caused by the drawing of this 100-year line and it is not fair on the people who live there.”

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