'We need to push now' - Hemsby residents on rock berm planning result

Lance Martin at his home, Dune Fall, on the edge of the cliff at Hemsby.

Lance Martin at his home, Dune Fall, on the edge of the cliff at Hemsby. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Residents in a coastal village battered by erosion have said they are thrilled with planning permission for a new sea defence - but admit the hard work starts now.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council passed a planning application for a rock berm at Hemsby on Wednesday, April 13.

The decision follows residents calling for action after high tides and strong winds destroyed a lifeguard station.

The RNLI tower, built two days ago, washed over by the sea at Hemsby, where the lifeboat is launched

The RNLI lifeguard tower was washed over by the sea at Hemsby, where the lifeboat is launched. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Hemsby Independent Lifeboat coxswain Daniel Hurd said: "It's fantastic news.

"We really need to push now as we are nearing a point of no return and we need to get it in as soon as possible."

Mr Hurd and his crew carried out work to the village's coastline one week before gale-force winds claimed more of the beach and almost swept away an RNLI lifeguard tower that was stationed at Hemsby Gap.

Hemsby Lifeboat coxswain, Dan Hurd, by the work to remove the two day old RNLI tower which was wash

Hemsby Lifeboat coxswain, Dan Hurd, by the work to remove the RNLI tower which was washed over by the sea. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Since then, Mr Hurd said things have been "getting better".

"We have had meetings with Great Yarmouth Borough Council," said Mr Hurd. "I think they can see the hassle we have been going through.

"I'm hoping it's not going to take too long to get the funds in, so we can have some better protection."

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Three different options for the berm's design are being considered and a cost-benefit analysis of each has been carried out. The selected design will depend on how much money can be raised to pay for its cost of up to £9m.

Great Yarmouth Borough and Norfolk County councillor James Bensly is also a resident of Hemsby.

Great Yarmouth Borough and Norfolk County councillor James Bensly is also a resident of Hemsby. - Credit: James Weeds

James Bensly, borough and county councillor for Hemsby, said he "cheered and clapped" when the permission was given to the planning application at Wednesday's planning committee meeting.

Mr Bensly said: "The emotion was high in the room and there was a massive sigh of relief.

"Hemsby is a brilliant place to live, bring up a family and work and our beautiful beaches have to be maintained for the future.

"Our brilliant Save Hemsby Coastline have kept pushing this issue and their enthusiasm and determination have finally got to this successful planning application. Without them, that would have been non-existent.

"The amazing Hemsby Lifeboat team have maintained the Gap access and they also deserve recognition.

"Since the Beast from the East hit Hemsby, we've reached a point where this planning application is needed along our coastline.

"It's vital for the safety of lives, vital for the safety of homes and vital for the viability of this great coastal destination.

A busy August day in the seaside holiday resort of Hemsby.
Picture: James Bass

A busy August day in the seaside holiday resort of Hemsby. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

"We're dealing with the 1949 Coastal Protection Act and it is no longer fit for purpose as it doesn't take into account the modern issues we are facing.

"The beach is why people come to Hemsby and that has to be protected.

"Moving forward, Hemsby working with Coastal Partnership East and the community should be a good example for other coastal areas to follow because this is a national issue and these talks have to start now.

"If Hemsby can be the example for other communities to follow, that will be a feather in our hat. We are facing challenges here that other communities will be facing soon."

Lance Martin at his home, Dune Fall, on the edge of the cliff at Hemsby.

Lance Martin at his home, Dune Fall, on the edge of the cliff at Hemsby. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Lance Martin, who has been a resident at The Marrams since November 2017, said: "I'm really happy about the news.

"Now the hard work starts to get the funding in place and getting the work underway.

"It gives us a safety net for at least 20 years to either stay here - which is what I fully intend to do - or improve our properties.

"It gives us some security to not worry about what is going on down at the beach. It's not only me, but it's the businesses down Beach Road.

The sea was still rushing towards Hemsby dune on Friday morning.

The sea was still rushing towards Hemsby dune on Friday morning. - Credit: James Weeds

"I think £9m is a lot of money to raise - especially in the current economic situation - but down here we put over £80m into the local economy on a yearly basis through tourism and that needs saving because there isn't any industry around here.

"If the beach goes, the holiday camps will likely follow and the place could fall into disrepair."

Mr Martin said he was grateful for Mr Bensly and the rest of the council that were at Wednesday's meeting for the positive outcome.