Work to protect clifftop home halted by council

Private sea defence work halted at Hemsby

A homeowners bid to protect his home in The Marrams has been halted by Great Yarmouth Borough Council. - Credit: Liz Coates

A homeowner's bid to protect his home from erosion has been halted by council officials.

Work started yesterday (Tuesday, September 28) to install some 80 blocks at the base of the sandy dunes at Hemsby.

Coastal erosion work halted at Hemsby

While work on the main defences at Hemsby has been halted, contractors are using emergency powers to sit the blocks at the base of the dune as a temporary measure. - Credit: Liz Coates

The 2.2 tonne interlocking concrete blocks were due to arrive in 12 lorry loads with engineers preparing to spend two weeks on the sands putting them in position.

Instead, they have been handed a "cease and desist" order by Great Yarmouth Borough Council while it makes sure all the proper permissions are in place.

Coastal erosion work halted at Hemsby

Two of around 80 interlocking concrete blocks paid for privately by a homeowner. - Credit: Liz Coates

Phil Woolston, who is overseeing the operation, said his client had been working on the project for at least eight months and liaising with the authorities including the landowner The Watling Trust, and coastal management bodies.

Coast protection work halted at Hemsby

Blocks being unloaded in the car park at Hemsby. Contractors had been expected to be on site for two weeks, but are now having to pack up as Great Yarmouth Borough Council dives into the paperwork thought to have been already in place. - Credit: Liz Coates

The order was imposed at around 4pm on Tuesday - too late to divert some lorries already scheduled to leave today at 2am.

With half the blocks already on the beach a decision was made to use emergency powers to sit them at the foot of the dune to protect a septic tank which was vulnerable to collapse.

View of the homes on the Marrams in Hemsby a month on from the tidal surge. January 2014. Picture:

Flashback: A chalet faces oblivion after the December 2013 storm surge hit The Marrams in Hemsby. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

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Under the arrangements Mr Woolston said it was understood his client could use planning permission already obtained for the hexagonal blocks to extend his scheme along the stretch at the base of The Marrams.

The DIY defences are being paid for privately, the interruption likely to cost thousands, Mr Woolston added.

He said the council had been notified the works were taking place.

Homes on The Marrams in Hemsby are on the verge of falling into the sea due to coastal erosion.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Flashback: Homes in The Marrams teetering on the edge in 2018. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Under the scheme one line of rocks will be buried, with another placed on top to break the force of the sea.

Further along homeowner Lance Martin has also made efforts to protect his clifftop  home, first pulling it back from the edge after surging seas tore a chunk of land away, and later installing his own rock barrier.

Hemsby is on the frontline in the battle against erosion and is hoping to secure funding for a rock-berm to bring temporary relief.

The exposed stretch made headlines around the world in 2018 when around a dozen chalets were torn down before they fell in the sea.

Hemsby borough councillor James Bensly is keen to defuse a bid to boycott Hemsby, launched on Facebo

Hemsby borough councillor James Bensly is keen to defuse a bid to boycott Hemsby, launched on Facebook Picture: Liz Coates - Credit: Archant

James Bensly, borough councillor for Hemsby, said he hoped the issue could be sorted quickly so work could resume.

"I encourage anyone to look after their own home and try and defend it like Lance has done, but we just have to make sure we have all the paperwork and ensure it does not have a negative effect anywhere else.

"I really hope this is just a pause and hopefully they can proceed as soon as possible."

In a statement, Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: “The council served a Temporary Stop Notice, which prohibits any works being continued for 28 days, to allow our planning team time to assess the proposed works and ensure all the appropriate processes and agreements are in place.

“We are in communication with the person responsible for the works and hope to have the matter resolved soon.”