Easton Bavents: Family home to be bulldozed before it crumbles into sea

A TREASURED family home at risk of crumbling into the sea is to be demolished before nature takes its course.

Sitting on the cliff edge at Easton Bavents, near Southwold, Thursley has been in the Thrawle family for four generations.

While a groundbreaking policy recently approved by the local council gives hope to Suffolk homeowners facing coastal erosion, it comes too late for this isolated, two-storey building. The house will be demolished on April 4.

Brother and sister Andrew Thrawle and Sally Mitchell, who have spent summers at the house since childhood, will watch as the bulldozers move in.

“It is frightening to see just how much land has disappeared over the years,” said Mr Thrawle, a purchase manager who lives in Warwickshire.

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“We were served with the demolition order by Waveney District Council two years ago, but that was stayed while we waited to see if more cliff disappeared.

“Now the cliff either side has started to crumble and we’ve agreed with the demolition contractors that it is time to go ahead.”

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The house was built by an architect called Abercrombie in the 1930s. Named after the Surrey village he came from, the house was one of three – all prototypes for what would have become a sprawling estate, complete with tennis courts and swimming pool, had the Second World War not arrived.

When William Thrawle bought Thursley from the Government in the 1940s it sat some 80metres away from the cliff edge.

“Although it’s been a second home, it’s been a constant in our lives,” said Mr Thrawle, 47.

“I turned up there in a pram and have returned every summer with family or friends. It a great wrench for us to lose it.

“We have watched the clifftop disappear over time and we always knew the house would go. In some ways it’s been wonderful to have this extra time, but that doesn’t lessen the shock.”

The other two houses built by Abercrombie were demolished in the 1990s.

The �1.5m Pathfinder project, a Government-funded scheme, was approved in January.

It sets down a land rights transfer policy which allows the people of Easton Bavents and nearby Corton to relocate to safe land and build similar properties under the same planning permission.

The relocation and replacement of homes is permitted as long as the dwelling is likely to be affected by erosion in the next 20 years.

As previously reported, the England family, who own the Retreat not far from Thursley, were given early residential land transfer rights by Waveney – one of the first deals of its kind in the UK.

While father Paul England lives in Southwold, brother and sister Charles and Beth hope to have a new property further inland by autumn.

Speaking this week Sue Allen, Easton Bavents councillor for Waveney, said: “It is very sad to hear about Thursley. We all know erosion is happening, but I think it’s happening a lot quicker than people thought it would when they bought those houses years ago.

“The Pathfinder procedure is extremely important for the people of Easton Bavents.”

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