Re-opening of seaside steps moves closer, nine years after landslip
- Credit: James Bass
Some nine years after a landslip shut one half of a Victorian set of steps, plans are being prepared to fully restore them.
The state of the White Lion steps connecting Cliff Hill and Beach Road has long been a source of local frustration.
A landslip in April 2012 narrowly missed a 12-year-old boy, and one side has been blocked off ever since.
Norfolk County Council, as owner of the steps, confirmed in September 2015 it would be backing away from recovering costs to pay for repairs from a developer working nearby, as the process was becoming too expensive.
However the council's deputy leader Graham Plant said new funding pots had become available, making the prospect of a full repair more likely.
He said with the legal action at an impasse and with pressure mounting from residents, he was asking for another survey which would give an indication of the costs involved, estimated at at least £200,000 some years ago.
The work was complex because of land ownership issues, and the difficult sloping topography as well as the practices of Victorian workmen building without foundations.
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Reinstating both sides would mean bringing them up to modern standards, and would require the expertise of bridge builders familiar with shoring up structures.
"This is about putting something back Gorleston people feel they have lost," he said.
"The legal challenge can continue once they have been reinstated then at least we will have a figure.
"There was a point in the past when the funding was not there.
"We are now in a different place where we could possibly get grants and I will be going to each one of them."
Resident Ron Upton said the steps were "an absolute disgrace".
The therapist and foster carer who lives in Cliff Hill has kept up the pressure for some years, garnering support on social media.
He said the steps were in a conservation area and were a much-needed link from top to bottom. As well as looking awful and presenting a poor image to visitors the steps were also historically valuable and an amenity.
He added he was stunned by the depth of feeling locally with many echoing his calls to fully restore the major feature, also home to Admiral Duncan's Pump which dates from the Napoleonic era.