Easton Bavents: Cash handout offer to cliff-top homeowners

Picture by Mike Page of Easton Bavents in 2012

Picture by Mike Page of Easton Bavents in 2012 - Credit: Mike Page

A group of homeowners whose properties are at risk from coastal erosion are to be offered cash to relocate.

Owners of homes at Easton Bavents, near Southwold, could receive money towards buying a new plot, or building on their own plot further inland, as part of the Waveney Pathfinder scheme.

Occupants of eligible homes bought before the 1998 publication of the first Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) could be due up to £15,000, plus up to £10,000 for professional fees.

Those who bought after 1998 are to be offered up to £10,000 and may be compensated for demolition costs.

The £1.5m Government-funded Pathfinder scheme was approved for Easton Bavents and Corton, near Lowestoft, in January 2011 to establish a land rights transfer policy for residents to move inland and build similar properties under the same planning permission.

David Ritchie, chairman of the Pathfinder board and district council coastal management chief, said: “This has been a long process which considered a wide range of professional, technical and local opinions on what is a complicated and emotive topic. The purpose of the scheme was always to assess all available options, consider their impact on the property owners and local communities and then reach a decision which, in the board’s opinion, was in the very best interests of all parties.”

However, the plan has been labelled an “unmitigated disaster” by Graham Henderson, chairman of Suffolk Coast Against Retreat (SCAR). He said: “I’m very frustrated for the people involved who are still left with the problem of finding somewhere to live. The council has acted in a classically bureaucratic manner of wasting money on discussion and consultation instead of being practical.”

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The scheme had previously identified land known as The Smere, in Reydon, as the potential site of nine new homes for people in Easton Bavents – but the proposal now looks set to be abandoned. The news was welcomed by Robert Kelsey, of campaign group Save the Smere, which was set up last year to save the beauty spot from development.

Property owners can comment on the plans before December 12. The board will then consider feedback and formally close the scheme.