Connect with us


Meet the brave residents who took the plunge to buy homes on Britain’s eroding cliff edges

After retiring to the Norfolk coast, Lance Martin soon grew used to the deafening sound of waves crashing against the cliffs 120 ft away from his two-bedroom bungalow.

He accepted that the erosion they caused would whittle away his garden as the years passed. It was the price he paid for his plum position overlooking the sea.

What he was not expecting, however, was to hear a ‘rumbling’ underfoot as he put the kettle on one evening in March 2018 — just four months after moving in. He looked down to see the sea between his feet, the waves having swept his kitchen floor away.

Instead of running for dry land, Lance, 64, reached for his chainsaw, cut through the 18ft by 12ft kitchen joists and ‘physically dropped’ the remainder of the room into the sea. 

He then acquired a tractor to drag the rest of his house back 32 ft, before spending £100,000 rebuilding it.

‘I was determined to save my property,’ says Lance.

Despite his best efforts, however — and there have been several — his home in the picturesque village of Hemsby is far from safe. Coastal erosion has continued apace, his bungalow is now perched perilously atop a 30ft drop, and he cannot be sure it will survive the next winter.

An affable retired soldier, Lance believes it’s worth the stress: ‘It was — and is — my dream home. Every morning I get up, I have a coffee and stare out to sea. It’s fantastic.

‘I never think, ‘Oh, I’ve had enough of this!’ and want to give up. I’m here to stay.’

But for how long is surely down to the whims of the ocean . . .

According to an Environment Agency report, 53 per cent of English and Welsh cliffs are subject to instability and erosion — with many of the soft clay cliffs on the east and south coasts of England affected.

Lance Martin (pictured) from Hemsby, Norfolk, has spent £100,000 moving his £95,000 house 10 metres backwards after 30ft of coastline eroded overnight during the Beast from the East in 2018

Lance Martin (pictured) from Hemsby, Norfolk, has spent £100,000 moving his £95,000 house 10 metres backwards after 30ft of coastline eroded overnight during the Beast from the East in 2018

Global warming is accelerating the process, with higher sea levels and increasingly volatile weather. 

And perched on top of cliffs and at sea edges, are disappearing and ‘doomed’ communities who live, every day, knowing that their properties will one day end up in the sea.

Unsurprisingly, living ‘on the edge’ has a serious effect on your house’s selling price. 

Take the imposing six-bedroom Victorian mansion Cliff House, for example, just a stone’s throw from Trimingham Beach, North Norfolk, which earlier this month went on the market for £600,000.

Even a heated swimming pool, a sweeping drive and grounds of 1.75 acres can’t make up for the fact it’s a mere 260ft (80m) from the cliff edge. 

If erosion continues at a rate of about 8.2 ft (2.5 m) a year — as data suggests was the rate between 1966 and 1985 — then the home could face oblivion within just 32 years.

As a result, banks are refusing to offer a mortgage for it. Whether there’ll be cash buyers willing to take a punt on the perilous property remains to be seen.

The thought of a bargain may be enough to lure some. Others may harbour hope — often unfounded — that authorities will eventually stump up for sea defences to stop houses falling into the sea.

So, what’s it really like living on a cliff edge?

Lance, who paid £95,000 for his home in November 2017, was seduced by the seclusion of his coastal home after 17 years living in London. At the time, he says, the coast was eroding at a rate of 3 ft a year, which, given his house was 120 ft from the cliff, would have given him 30 to 40 years.

‘It would see my lifetime out,’ he says. ‘I wasn’t that concerned.’

But during the now infamous ‘Beast from the East’ storm of February 2018, ferocious winds and the stormy waters it whipped up tore 65 ft of coastline from in front of his house over just a day and a half.

Sitting just a stone's throw away from Trimingham Beach, this six-bedroom property in Trimingham, North Nortfolk, boasts a heated swimming pool and a pool house, along with two driveways, five bathrooms, a large entrance hall and a modern fitted kitchen with a separate dining room

Sitting just a stone’s throw away from Trimingham Beach, this six-bedroom property in Trimingham, North Nortfolk, boasts a heated swimming pool and a pool house, along with two driveways, five bathrooms, a large entrance hall and a modern fitted kitchen with a separate dining room

‘It was more worrying than frightening,’ he says. ‘We didn’t know how much would wash away.’

The house remained intact, however, until a fortnight later, when another deluge — Storm Emma — demolished his battered wooden kitchen floor (the bungalow was made of wood, with no foundations).

Unfazed — ‘because of my background I’ve got a bit more will-power, if that makes sense’ — Lance roped in friends to help cut the kitchen off in the dark, at 10pm.

‘It took about 90 minutes,’ he says. ‘We still had power at that point.’

While all the other nearby residents were evicted, Lance persuaded a friend to help him, aided by a tractor, drag the rest of his home back 32 ft.

‘We started at 8am. The council had given us an ultimatum: if we hadn’t done it by 1pm they would demolish me,’ says Lance. ‘We were finished by 12.30pm.’

He spent five months rebuilding the house, complete with bifold windows that give panoramic views of the sea along the front. ‘People thought I was crazy,’ he says, ‘but I was lucky. I had the cash.’

That winter, he was given permission to excavate and transport concrete sea defences that had been placed on the nearby seafront in 2013 but had since sunk, redundant, under the sand. With the help of a hired digger, he moved about 75 boulders that form a wall about 6 ft high in front of his home.

He has since had to rebuild this wall three times. And within the next year and a half, he anticipates having to drag or lift his home — which weighs 40 to 60 tonnes — across the road using specialist equipment, an operation he calls ‘Plan Z’.

Like many in the area, Lance is pinning his hopes on the fact Great Yarmouth Borough Council has submitted plans for a long-awaited sea defence scheme, the cost of which is estimated to be between £5 million and £14 million.

‘It might give us another 20 years or so,’ says Lance, ‘which would see my time out.’

While funds are granted by the Environment Agency for sea defences — from concrete walls to wooden groynes that trap sand to slow the sea’s force — sparsely populated villages are rarely a priority.

‘Government policy is to protect large urban areas and industry in the national interest,’ explains Professor Mike Elliott, chair in estuarine and coastal sciences at the University of Hull. 

He says a ‘cost benefit analysis’ is carried out to decide which stretches of coast should benefit from the estimated £2million required per 100m of defence, and, ‘with such a ratio of costs to benefits, it is not possible to protect small areas containing isolated houses.’

These areas include Green Lane, in Skipsea, East Yorkshire, where several of the 20-odd houses in the tiny community have recently been demolished by the council, with the rest expected to last only a matter of months. 

Resident Deborah Hawksley, 61, from Skipsea, East Yorkshire, whose home is under threat of coastal erosion

Resident Deborah Hawksley, 61, from Skipsea, East Yorkshire, whose home is under threat of coastal erosion

‘We feel absolutely, completely abandoned,’ says Deborah Hawksley, 64, whose family has had a holiday home here since the 1930s. 

Although sea defences have been built in nearby Bridlington and Hornsea, she says: ‘We’ve been offered nothing.’

Her two-bedroom bungalow is now just over 10 m from the cliff edge. When it reaches 9.36 m — the greatest distance of cliff reportedly taken off in one chunk — Deborah will be served an eviction notice.

‘It’s an appalling thought, but it’s going to happen,’ says Deborah, a former opera singer.

This will be the second time her family she has lost a home in Skipsea to coastal erosion — the first being a wooden bungalow her grandfather built on the seafront in the 1930s.

The Trimingham property went up for sale this month for just £600,000

The Trimingham property went up for sale this month for just £600,000

It boasts a heated swimming pool, sweeping drive and 1.75 acres... but it's just 260ft from the cliff edge

It boasts a heated swimming pool, sweeping drive and 1.75 acres… but it’s just 260ft from the cliff edge

‘We were still using it in the 1980s when one corner was literally hanging over a cliff,’ says Deborah. ‘There weren’t the stringent health and safety rulings there are now.’

After that bungalow was demolished in 1985 the family built a replacement on the field they owned directly behind, 20 m from the shore — a foolhardy decision, some might say, given the pattern of coastal erosion, but one Deborah feels was more than justified by the beauty of the location.

‘We’ve had 34 years. How many people can stand in their sitting room and see beach and blue sky?’ she asks. ‘The night skies are incredible. The air, the view, when the full moon sits over the sea — you can’t put a price on that. It’s the most magical place on earth.’

But in preparation for the inevitable, Deborah says they’ve ‘signed a personal plan with the council that commits us to agreeing to vacate our bungalow as soon as we are served with an eviction notice. In return for our compliance, they will cover the cost of demolition [quoted as in excess of £6,000].

‘Although the land remaining will still belong to us, we are not permitted to site even a static caravan. It would have to remain empty.’

For many years Deborah barely noticed the coast receding. But recent storms have sped up the process.

‘A high tide hits the cliffs and can throw rocks off. It can break our windows — it can be really terrifying,’ she says.

‘We’ve lost quite a few properties recently. Every month the council comes striding through the gardens on the seafront to measure the distance from our building to the edge of the cliff. We all feel the council will probably regret even allowing us to build on that land at all. They don’t want us here.’

Jane Evison, a councillor at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, under which jurisdiction Green Lane falls, acknowledges it is ‘not just alarming but heart-breaking’ for the families about to lose their homes. ‘When you don’t want to leave, the tendency is to bury your head in the sand and not face up to the fact it probably isn’t safe any more,’ she says. ‘We have to be the bad guys and help them through that.’

The garden of the spacious, cliff edge property

The garden of the spacious, cliff edge property

It has a magnificent view of the sea - but the coastal edge is perilously close

It has a magnificent view of the sea – but the coastal edge is perilously close

To rub (sea) salt into the wound, as Deborah Hawksley says, homeowners are normally expected to pay for the demolition of their properties when they’re no longer safe. The thousands of pounds required are not available to most.

‘So, as the local authority, we take on that responsibility,’ says Jane Evison, who explains the council can claim £6,000 back from the Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs per property, ‘which, of course, nowhere near covers the cost’.

Nicola Bayless, meanwhile, is relatively sanguine about the fact that the end of her street has now fallen off a cliff, coastal erosion reducing the distance from her home in Happisburgh, Norfolk, to the cliff edge from 500 m to under 100 m in 19 years.

With the house on the other side of her street — and closer to the sea — demolished in 2012, Nicola, whose husband Stephen died in 2016, aged 42, believes she has ‘at most’ ten years left in hers, and possibly as little as two or three.

‘I’m sad they don’t feel it’s worth saving,’ says Nicola, 46, mother to Darcy, 18, and Violet, 13. 

She bought her three-bedroom cottage at auction for £50,000 in 2004 — the well-documented coastal erosion problem meaning it had been unable to sell conventionally.

The coastal property has luxurious interiors and a spacious dining area

The coastal property has luxurious interiors and a spacious dining area

One of the main bedrooms at the seaview property

One of the main bedrooms at the seaview property

It might be right on the coast... but you don't even need to nip outside for a dip

It might be right on the coast… but you don’t even need to nip outside for a dip

‘I wouldn’t have been able to afford the house without it,’ says Nicola, who was as beguiled by the beauty of her area as she was the prospect of a bargain.

She had holidayed in Happisburgh as a child, and her own parents had bought a house on the same street four years earlier. Nicola and Stephen treated their daughters to picnics on the beach. Afternoons were spent swimming in the sea and fossil-hunting.

Less agreeable, however, was watching the cliff come closer with every passing year.

Once, Nicola was reading in bed when she heard an almighty thud that reverberated through the walls of her three-bed semi-detached home. ‘I was petrified,’ she says, finding the next morning ‘a big old chunk’ of the cliff was missing: ‘It looked like a giant had taken a bite out of the side.’

Houses on the coastline in Skipsea, East Ridings of Yorkshire, (Ms Hawksley's outlined in red) where councillors are set to discuss the "devastating" effect of erosion that will see dozens of people in Skipsea lose their homes to the sea on the fastest disappearing coastline in North West Europe

Houses on the coastline in Skipsea, East Ridings of Yorkshire, (Ms Hawksley’s outlined in red) where councillors are set to discuss the ‘devastating’ effect of erosion that will see dozens of people in Skipsea lose their homes to the sea on the fastest disappearing coastline in North West Europe

She admits: ‘It is quite frightening. The house trembles as the cliff erodes. You think: ‘Am I going to wake up and find myself on the edge?’ Once, my daughter and I were standing there in our waterproofs in the rain, when there was a big crack in the ground. My daughter said: ‘Mum, look, it’s moving,’ — and it went.’

In 2016 Nicola and Stephen moved into her parents’ home, on the same road three doors down and even closer to the sea.

‘We swapped with my parents because we needed more room,’ she explains.

Tragically, Stephen, a welder, died shortly afterwards — another reason Nicola is reluctant to leave: ‘The memories keep me wanting to stay.’

She is adamant that she has no regrets. ‘I know I probably haven’t got anything to leave my children, but at least they’ve had the memories and happiness.’   

Source link


Assessing The Potential of The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) Against China’s Belt And Road Initiative (BRI)

(THE VOICE OF EU) – In a recent address, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the newly unveiled India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) as a transformative force poised to shape global trade for centuries. While the IMEC undoubtedly presents a significant development, it’s vital to scrutinize its potential impact compared to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The IMEC was jointly announced by US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit in Delhi. Designed to fortify transportation and communication networks between Europe and Asia via rail and shipping routes, the project not only holds regional promise but also reflects a strategic move by the US in its geopolitical interests, particularly concerning China.

However, the IMEC faces a formidable contender in the form of China’s BRI, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.

Despite facing some headwinds, including a slowdown in lending due to China’s economic deceleration and concerns raised by nations like Italy, Sri Lanka, and Zambia regarding debt sustainability, the BRI remains a monumental global undertaking.

With investments surpassing a staggering $1 trillion and over 150 partner countries, the BRI has transformed from a regional initiative to a near-global endeavor.

Comparatively, the IMEC may not immediately match the scale or ambition of the BRI. While the US, Japan, and the G7 nations have introduced similar initiatives like the Global Gateway and Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, none have achieved the expansive reach or influence of the BRI.

The emergence of these projects over the past five years, however, demonstrates the BRI’s pivotal role as a catalyst for global economic growth.

Viewing the IMEC solely through the lens of opposition to the BRI may not provide a comprehensive understanding of its potential.

Instead, the IMEC contributes to a broader trend of transactional partnerships, where countries engage with multiple collaborators simultaneously, underscoring the complex and interconnected nature of global trade relations.

Yet, realizing the IMEC’s aspirations demands meticulous planning and execution. A comprehensive action plan is expected within the next 60 days, outlining key governmental agencies responsible for investments, allocated capital, and implementation timelines.

Establishing a streamlined customs and trade infrastructure is equally critical to facilitate seamless transit, a challenge highlighted by the Trans-Eurasian railway’s 30-country passage through Kazakhstan.

Navigating geopolitical complexities between partner countries, particularly the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, poses another potential hurdle.

Ensuring these nations maintain a unified strategic vision amid differing priorities and interests requires careful diplomatic coordination.

Furthermore, the IMEC will compete directly with the Suez Canal, a well-established and cost-effective maritime route.

While the IMEC may enhance relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it could potentially strain ties with Egypt, prompting critical assessments of the project’s economic viability.

Beyond trade and economics, the IMEC ambitiously aims to incorporate diverse sectors, from electricity grids to cybersecurity.

This multi-dimensional approach aligns with discussions held in security forums like the Quad and, if realized, could significantly contribute to a safer, more sustainable global landscape.

As we contemplate the potential of the IMEC, it is with hope that the lofty ambitions outlined in New Delhi will culminate in a tangible and positive transformation for the world.

Continue Reading


Copyright Dispute: DC Comics And ‘Fables’ Author Clash over Ownership, Author Aims for Public Domain

A detail from a 'Fables' cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image courtesy of the publisher ECC.
A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image courtesy of the publisher ECC.

This is a story full of fairy tales. In some ways, it even resembles one. And yet it also proves that, in the real world, things rarely end happily ever after. A few days ago, Bill Willingham, the father of the celebrated Fables comic book series, announced that he was sending his most cherished work to the public domain, that is, to everyone. That’s only fair, since that is also where he got the main characters of his stories, from Snow White to the Wolf, from Pinocchio to Prince Charming, who were then relocated to modern New York. In this tale, the hero has long-faced mistreatment at the hands of the villains, DC Comics, the owner of Vertigo, which publishes the work in the United States, and its executives.

“If I couldn’t prevent Fables from falling into bad hands, at least this is a way I can arrange that it also falls into many good hands,” Willingham wrote in an online post in which he decried the label’s repeated attempts to take over his creations and opposed them with this final extreme remedy. But the company responded that it considers itself to be the true owner of the series.

In a statement published by the specialized media IGN, the company threatened to take “necessary action” to defend its rights. Thus, the end of the dispute is uncertain. But it is unlikely that everyone will end up happily ever after.

In the meantime, in a new post, Willingham celebrated the massive support he received. In fact, for the moment, he has declined all interview requests — he did not respond to this newspaper’s request, nor did the publisher — arguing that he preferred to spend the next few days working on new artistic projects. Meanwhile, the dispute continues.

Fables is one of the most celebrated graphic novels of the last 20 years, and it has spawned spin-offs and a video game adaptation (The Wolf Among Us).

This situation also touches on a key issue, namely, the intellectual property rights of characters and works, especially in a sector where, for decades, dozens of cartoonists and screenwriters have accused comic book giants Marvel and DC of pressuring them to cede their ideas and accept commissioned contracts.

Willingham sums it up as a policy aimed to make creators sign “work for hire” agreements and crush them. All of this makes a gesture that was already intended to make a splash even more resonant.

A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image provided by ECC
A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image provided by ECC.

Indeed, the battle over intellectual property is as old as contemporary comics: the copyrights for Superman, Batman and The Fantastic Four all have unresolved disputes and complaints from Jerry Siegel, Bill Finger and Jack Kirby over the contemptuous treatment they suffered. And heavyweight Alan Moore has been lamenting for years that DC took away his ownership of famous works like Watchmen.

Along with prestige and principles, tens of millions of dollars are at stake, especially now that the film industry has become interested in comics.

“When you sign a contract with DC, your responsibilities to them are carved in stone, where their responsibilities to you are treated as “helpful suggestions that we’ll try to accommodate when we can, but we’re serious adults, doing serious business and we can’t always take the time to indulge the needs of these children who work for us” the Fables author wrote on his blog. Following the impact of his original message, Willingham posted two other texts. He maintains that he had thought about sending his work into the public domain when he passed away, but that “certain events” have changed his plans: among them, he lists the changes in management and attitude at the top of the publishing company; the multiple breaches of obligations such as consultations about covers, artists for new plots and adaptations; DC’s forgetfulness when it came to pay, which forced him to demand invoices of up to $30,000; the suspicious frequency with which the publisher attributed it to “slipping through the cracks” (to such an extent that the author insisted that they stop using that expression); and the time and chances he gave them to respect the pact, renegotiate it or even break it and consensually separate.

A detail from the cover of the first volume of Bill Willingham's comprehensive collection of 'Fables.'
A detail from the cover of the first volume of Bill Willingham’s comprehensive collection of ‘Fables’.

“Shortly after creating Fables, I entered into a publishing agreement with DC Comics. In that agreement, while I continued to own the property, DC would have exclusive rights to publish Fables comics, and then later that agreement was expanded to give DC exclusive rights to exploit the property in other ways, including movies and TV.

DC paid me a fair price for these rights (fair at the time), and as long as they behaved ethically and above-board, and conducted themselves as if this were a partnership, all was more or less well. But DC doesn’t seem to be capable of acting fairly and above-board.

In fact, they treated this agreement (as I suppose I should have known they would) as if they were the boss and I, their servant. In time that got worse, as they later reinterpreted our contracts to assume they owned Fables outright,” Willingham laments. Hence, he concluded that “you can’t reason with the unreasonable.”

Having ruled out a lawsuit as too expensive and time-consuming at 67 years of age, he found a more creative solution: if they prevented him from owning his works and benefiting from them as he was entitled to do, he would not let the publisher do so either. Or, at least, everyone could use the comics as they wished. But the label was quick to clarify in its statement to IGN: “The Fables comic books and graphic novels [are] published by DC, and are not in the public domain”.

For his part, Willingham promises to continue fighting for all the conditions of his still-in-force contract that he considers DC to have violated, as well as for the last installments of the series, the final script of which he delivered two years ago.

There will be additional chapters in this dispute, as well as in many other ones like it: in 2024, the historic first image of Mickey Mouse, the one that starred in the 1928 short Steamboat Willie, enters the public domain in the U.S. and other countries. Copyright in the U.S. lasts for 95 years, and math is an exact science.

Therefore, in a few years, King Kong, Superman and Popeye will meet the same fate. But The New York Times has wondered how the “notoriously litigious” Disney will react and how far it will go to fight in court. And who would dare to freely use all these works for fear of a million-dollar lawsuit? The same question surrounds DC and similar companies. Because in the real world, fairy tales are rare. Or they end up in court.

Continue Reading


Do water features like a pool, pond or fountains add value to a home?

He may be used to making a splash in politics. But now it seems that Boris Johnson will be able to do that closer to home, too.

This week, it was revealed that the former prime minister has been given permission to build a swimming pool in the garden of his £3.78 million Oxfordshire country home. 

A move which will doubtless provide a restful place to unwind, exercise and relax as he navigates post-political life.

Deep pockets: A country home with outdoor swimming pool

Deep pockets: A country home with outdoor swimming pool 

But even if you don’t have deep pockets for such deep-water projects, it’s still possible to create the tranquil benefits of waterside living. 

Whether it’s through installing a hot tub, pond, or even decorative fountains. 

But, as our experts point out, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before splashing out…

Frequent attention

Introducing any kind of water feature to your garden requires some upkeep.

During the spring and summer, you’ll need to top up your water feature regularly to replenish water loss caused by evaporation. 

And there’s also the task of removing branches and leaves as well as pruning bushes nearby.

‘It’s also a good idea to give your water feature a thorough clean and add a wildlife-friendly algaecide or UV steriliser after cleaning,’ says Will Haxby, home and garden sales director at Haddonstone, which specialises in stonework ‘as this will prevent algae growth build-up caused by the warm conditions.’ 

When the temperatures drop, drain off water before the winter to protect your feature from frost. 

You’ll also need to clean the pump to remove any limescale build-up.

Will it add value?

Installing features like fountains can add to the kerb appeal of your home, says Tabitha Cumming, a property expert at The Lease Extension Company, says: ‘This means that it will make a better first impression and potentially add value to your home.’

Amer Siddiq, founder and CEO at Landlord Vision, believes that water features such as fountains can have other benefits, too.

‘They can help mask unwanted noises from roads or neighbours. They can also attract birds and wildlife, adding a touch of nature to your surroundings.’

Andrew Landers, director at Property Rescue, a home-buying service, says: ‘The post-covid world has seen the importance of outside space massively increase, and any enhancements that make this space more enjoyable is going to have a positive impact on the value of a home.’

Hidden costs

Factor additional costs into your budget, too, since water features rarely boil down to a single, one-off payment.

‘For example if any of your water features have fish, these can incur additional costs from the food and care that they will require, and you will also need to be vigilant to keep them safe from predators,’ says Cumming. 

Some features can cause structural issues, too. 

‘Fountains may become damaged through wear and tear or have cracks caused by water freezing over,’ she adds.

Beware risks

In summer, having a water feature will make you a magnet for friends and family who want to pop around and cool down. 

All of which, says Anna Giles, an associate at law firm Wedlake Bell, could increase scope for accidents

‘Homeowners should bear in mind that they could be subject to a claim for compensation if someone injures themselves at their property, so reasonable care needs to be taken to ensure that visitors and/or occupiers of the property will be safe.’

Source link

Continue Reading


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!