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Questions, suggestions, fears and frustrations - Hemsby community speaks up on coastal erosion

PUBLISHED: 18:46 12 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:58 13 April 2018

Public drop-in day at Hemsby Village Hall for residents to look at the Winterton to Hemsby Costal Management Study.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Public drop-in day at Hemsby Village Hall for residents to look at the Winterton to Hemsby Costal Management Study. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

On Saturday, number 197 in The Marrams will become the sixth house to be demolished in Hemsby this year.

Public drop-in day at Hemsby Village Hall for residents to look at the Winterton to Hemsby Costal Management Study.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Public drop-in day at Hemsby Village Hall for residents to look at the Winterton to Hemsby Costal Management Study. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Severe coastal erosion has eaten away at the dunes in the village leaving houses overhanging over the cliff edge, with demolition the only option for many.

Seven more chalets are said to be at “significant risk” and consultations on how best to tackle the growing threat of coastal erosion have been ramped up in the wake of recent events.

A £35,000 study, funded by the Environment Agency, is aiming to assess a range of options and risks the area faces, and a drop-in session was held at Hemsby village hall as a means of allowing the community to have their input.

It was clear to see how important this issue is to the village, with more than 50 people packing out the hall within the first half an hour, engaging in conversation with coastal engineers and councillors.

Public drop-in day at Hemsby Village Hall for residents to look at the Winterton to Hemsby Costal Management Study.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Public drop-in day at Hemsby Village Hall for residents to look at the Winterton to Hemsby Costal Management Study. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Ann Wilkinson, who lives in Fakes Road, said: “We want less talk and more action. Homes fell in 2013 and here we still are.

“If the sea gets over the gap it will run down to the village and into the Broads. This affects everyone.”

Her neighbour, Joyce Phelan, has lived on the road for more than 40 years.

She said: “When I moved in all you could see were dunes, now I’ve got a full sea view.”

Public drop-in day at Hemsby Village Hall for residents to look at the Winterton to Hemsby Costal Management Study. Hemsby residents Tracy Savage and her daughter Coral Savage.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Public drop-in day at Hemsby Village Hall for residents to look at the Winterton to Hemsby Costal Management Study. Hemsby residents Tracy Savage and her daughter Coral Savage. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The yearning for action was succinctly summarised by one lady who labelled each map in the hall with sticky notes that read, “URGENT!”

But Carl Smith, deputy council leader, said the issue was being addressed with the requisite haste.

He said: “I’m pleased we’re getting this moving and we estimate the study will take around eight weeks, which is good.

“It’s great to see people are getting involved and we are moving forward as a community. The people have been excellent throughout.

Public drop-in day at Hemsby Village Hall for residents to look at the Winterton to Hemsby Costal Management Study.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Public drop-in day at Hemsby Village Hall for residents to look at the Winterton to Hemsby Costal Management Study. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“It’s important to involve the community because the study is for them and they will have their say on the findings.”

However for the likes of Tracy Savage, who has a mortgage on a six-bedroom house in Fakes Road, cooperation is time sensitive.

She said: “If my house falls that will still be my land and I will not let them build sea defences on it if they haven’t protected me.”

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