Former soldier begins bid to pull clifftop home back from coastline
‘We’re in a race against time’: Ex-Grenadier Guard whose clifftop home is set to fall into the sea begins desperate bid to pull his 50-tonne property back from eroding coastline
- Lance Martin launches bid to move his house at Hemsby, Great Yarmouth
A former soldier whose clifftop house is at risk of falling into the sea says he must ‘move it or lose it’ – possibly within hours.
Lance Martin, 65, today launched a desperate bid to slide his 50-tonne property back from the eroding coastal cliff at Hemsby, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk and put out an urgent call to heavy machinery contractors to help him to literally ‘move house’.
The fast-moving drama came after three properties along the same beach were demolished at the weekend following a succession of extremely high tides on the east Norfolk coast.
‘We’re now in a race against time,’ said Mr Martin, as he and his partner frantically dug with pickaxes only feet from the cliff edge to enable a telegraph pole to be fixed beneath the edge of the wooden house, which would then be attached to cranes and cables for the extraordinary move.
The land behind the property, where it is intended to move to, belongs to a local landowner who has given permission for it to be levelled for Mr Martin’s house.
Lance Martin who is fighting to save his house Dune Fall from falling into the sea
In 2018 Mr Martin was able to drag his wooden property named ‘Dune Fall’ away from the coast, using heavy machinery, and now he will do the same
The land behind the property, where it is intended to move to, belongs to a local landowner who has given permission for it to be levelled for Mr Martin’s house
In 2018 Mr Martin was able to drag his wooden property named ‘Dune Fall’ away from the coast, using heavy machinery, and now he knows his only chance to save it means having to do the same again.
But having lost 4m to the sea in just the last weekend, time, tide – and the odds – are mounting against him.
He was one of five residents of The Marrams in Hemsby to be evacuated last Thursday, after a 3.5-metre tide threatened their homes once again.
Now he says he wants to drag it back a further 40 metres with a tractor, after several neighbouring homes were demolished last weekend.
Officials from Great Yarmouth Borough Council were milling around the property this morning, where a section of roadway only a few metres away has collapsed into the sea, making it impassable.
Although Mr Martin has been granted time for his ‘adaptation plan’ (moving the property) before demolition is considered necessary, he said he has been told privately he is ‘number one’ on the demolition list.
He told MailOnline: ‘The council first of all, gave me a week to 10 days to move it. But obviously their timetable moves with the record erosion around the coastline.
‘I’ve heard this morning that I’ve been put down as number one on the demolition list, which is a bit worrying and upsetting.
He wants to drag it back a further 40 metres with a tractor, after several neighbouring homes were demolished last weekend
Erosion at Hemsby Beach, Norfolk threatens coastal homes
Mr Martin, 65, has described it as a ‘race against time’ to save his home
‘Obviously, I can only work as fast as people can get the machinery to me,’ he said
He said he had no regrets about buying the property with its ‘infinity pool’ visible through the window, as he jokingly referred to the North Sea
‘Obviously, I can only work as fast as people can get the machinery to me. I can’t do anything else.
‘That’s why I’m putting a call out for as much machinery and planning to come down as possible so that we can get it done. ASAP.’
Mr Martin purchased the house for £95,000 in 2017 and insisted he could stand on its roof and still not see the sea when he first moved in.
He said he had no regrets about buying the property with its ‘infinity pool’ visible through the window, as he jokingly referred to the North Sea.
He was told by a surveyor to expect 3ft of dune loss each year due to erosion, but revealed he lost almost 100ft alone during the Beast from the East storm in 2018.
Each of his neighbours have been evicted from their adjacent properties amid safety fears, but Mr Martin has always insisted he has no intention of leaving his dream home.
His previous plan to move the house inland cost him £100,000 and he put his own makeshift coastal defences on the beach below, with concrete blocks, but today those appeared to have little effect as the road beyond his house fell into the sea.
Mr Martin purchased the house for £95,000 in 2017 and insisted he could stand on its roof and still not see the sea when he first moved in
Neighbours have been evicted from their adjacent properties amid safety fears, but Mr Martin has always insisted he has no intention of leaving his dream home
Today he told MailOnline he had mentally prepared himself to walk away from the property, saying: ‘I’m ever the optimist. There’s always opportunities, and I’ll find somewhere. I’m not particularly worried.
‘After 22 years in the Army, you learned to walk away from things and put them in little boxes. I will shed a tear for a minute or two then I’ll pack my bags and move on.
‘It’ll be the end of that fantastic infinity pool beyond me. Waking up to that every morning actually feeling the bass rumble of the sea through the through the building, is just a fantastic way to live.’
Mr Martin served in the Grenadier Guards from 1978 to 2000 and moved to the coast after he retired from his security job and sold his flat in Dagenham, east London.
A spokesperson for Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s coastal management team, Coastal Partnership East (CPE), said today: ‘Great Yarmouth Borough Council, via CPE, is initiating emergency works to reduce the erosion risk to the main access road for the Marrams. This road provides access for a number of properties and is also the conduit for utilities like water and electricity.
‘All those with homes at risk have been visited by the council’s housing and community teams who continue to offer advice. Storage space for people who need somewhere to put belongings has been organised and assistance in moving items is being provided.’
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