Would you take a punt on Easton Bavents home threatened by coastal erosion?

It offers a tranquil rural setting and fantastic views of the north Suffolk coast. But a chance to buy the clifftop house at Easton Bavents, near Southwold, for a supposed bargain asking price of between £25,000 and £50,000 comes with an obvious snag – it could fall victim to coastal erosion.

The unoccupied semi-detached home at the end of Easton Lane is only 26 ft away from the rapidly disappearing clifftop and is being auctioned in February by insolvency practitioners McTear Williams and Wood for a guide price of between £25,000 and £50,000. But while it may seem strange to buy a home that looks set to topple over the cliff, there is a reason why prospective bidders are expressing an interest in purchasing it.

Under the Waveney Pathfinder Project the new owner of the threatened property will be allowed to stake a claim to build another home in the area as part of coastal erosion mitigation measures. And as well as the owner of the erosion-threatened property seeking planning permission on land which ordinarily would not be permitted, the pathfinder project would see up to £10,000 handed over to them to meet legal costs and further cash could be made available to meet the demolition costs of the semi-detached home.

Andrew McTear, whose insolvency firm is selling the home, said potential buyers would be told of the “problems” linked to the property. He said: “We will tell them the house will fall down the cliff. But it does have benefits as there is a potential for another development elsewhere on another plot of land.”

The owner of the other part of the semi-detached property is Laura Martin, who says she has long term plans to move into a caravan further inland. Between the summers of 1996 and 2009 the average annual rate of erosion at Easton Bavents was 6ft 8in.

Last month in order to help property owners the £1.5m Waveney Pathfinder Project ratified a scheme that will see landowners who bought their homes before 1998 offered up to £15,000 per property towards the cost of a new plot elsewhere in Waveney and up to £10,000 towards legal costs. Those who bought properties after 1998 will be offered up to £10,000 towards fees and possible financial support for demolition.

Waveney District Council planning policy DM22 also allows for development in the countryside in the “exceptional circumstance” of coastal erosion where it is the “only way to address a particular need.” A spokesman for the pathfinder scheme said: “The Waveney Pathfinder Project scheme does not provide blanket support for Easton Bavents property owners who are at risk from coastal erosion. “Although owners of erosion-threatened properties can seek planning permission on land which ordinarily would not be permitted, there remain strict planning criteria which the landowner would need to satisfy. “They could not just build what they want, where they want it. DM22 says ‘Replacement dwellings should have no detrimental impact upon the landscape, townscape or biodiversity of the area’.”

Originally the pathfinder project had looked at re-locating nine homes to land known as the Reydon Smear, prompting fears the beauty spot would be ruined by development.

The auction will be held by Aldreds in Great Yarmouth on February 14 on behalf of the insolvency firm.

Eastern Daily Press
2 January 2014

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