Re-opening of seaside steps moves closer, nine years after landslip

White Lion steps landslip

Flashback: The day of the landslip in April 2012. - 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.

White Lion steps landslip

The White Lion Steps in Gorleston in the days after the landslip in April 2012. - Credit: Nick Butcher

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.

White Lion steps Gorleston landslide

The White Lion steps after initial work was done to make them safe following a landslip in 2012. - Credit: Nick Butcher

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.

White Lion steps Gorleston

A schoolboy was nearly crushed when a wall collapsed at the White Lion steps in 2012. - Credit: James Bass

"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."

White Lion steps Gorleston

Things are looking up for the White Lion steps in Gorleston, one half of which has been closed since a landslip in 2012. Residents say the site is an eyesore and should be restored. - Credit: Ron Upton

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.

White Lion steps Gorleston

The White Lion steps in Gorleston in March 2021. Neighbours say the site is an eyesore and should be restored to its former glory. - Credit: Ron Upton

White Lion steps Gorleston

The wall at the bottom of the White Lion steps, half of which has been closed since a landslip nearly a decade ago, appears to be under pressure. Councillor Graham Plant has said there is no danger. - Credit: Ron Upton