'Sadness' as diggers move in and demolition starts on clifftop properties
- Credit: Mick Howes
A popular holiday cottage earmarked as a future retirement home has become the first property on a cliff edge to be demolished.
Demolition has begun on the first of four cliff-edge properties that have been deemed unsafe due to unprecedented rates of coastal erosion in Pakefield, Lowestoft.
The owners of The Rosary cottage on Arbor Lane in Pakefield admitted it was "very sad" to see the diggers move in this week.
With a white "surrender flag" fluttering in front of The Rosary, at the edge above the clifftop, the excavator started demolition work on Tuesday.
Continuing on Wednesday, and with site clearance likely to only take a couple of days, there was sadness as the clifftop cottage - featuring uninterrupted views of the beach and sea - was being knocked down.
It is one of four clifftop chalets seaward of the access road in Arbor Lane, Pakefield facing the threat of demolition due to "accelerated erosion".
East Suffolk Council said that as Pakefield has been subject to "unprecedented rates of coastal erosion" since 2019, recent storms have caused further "significant damage".
With the council having provided advice and support to the owners of the four properties in Pakefield, a council spokesman said: “This latest period of cliff erosion has meant that those properties are now at the cliff edge and demolition is advisable."
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On Tuesday its owners posted on Facebook: "Demolition of The Rosary starts today, the white surrender flag says it all.
"A very sad day for many people.
"Goodbye Rosary, thank you for all the wonderful memories you have given over your lifetime."
Heartbroken owners Tim Revett and Lorraine Revett, from Elmswell near Stowmarket, said it was a "very sad" day.
Speaking on Wednesday, with demolition work continuing at the scene, Mr Revett said: "We have had some great times here and many memories - it is very sad.
"My mother-in-law bought the cottage in 2008 and we inherited it five years ago when she sadly died.
"It was going to be our retirement home.
"We have renovated it and done a lot of work. It's been in the family 14 years, but before this my mother-in-law was friends with the people who had it before,
"We tried to find out when it was first built, and I think it must be post war."
Being the first clifftop chalet seaward of Arbor Lane in Pakefield, The Rosary has felt the full force of the changing conditions as the cliff has been "attacked from both sides."
Mr Revett said: "We are first in line and there are three more of those chalets that have to go after this one.
"We have had to do something or we lose everything.
"A lot of family, friends and holidaymakers have used it and created memories over the years.
"We've had five good years with it, with friends and family staying here, but sadly we've known this has been coming for some time.
"The storms recently, particularly that storm a couple of weeks ago, was the final nail in the coffin.
"The cliff erosion has really accelerated the last two winters, much more than predicted."
The Revett's are part of the Pakefield Coast Protection Steering Group, who have worked with Coastal Partnership East - the coastal management team for East Suffolk Council.
In September last year temporary protection works were carried out as concrete slabs that had fallen from the nearby Rifle Range were re-purposed as "defences" at the base of the cliff.
He said: "Those temporary defences we helped with were a last attempt to provide protection from the cliff erosion - rather than do nothing, we gave it a try in an effort to save it.
"But sadly we've lost the frontage of the cliff, and it is too open to the elements."
With the owners of the other properties having been told that "the recent period of extreme weather brought by Storms Arwen and Barra" had caused "significant damage to the cliffs in front of four properties seaward of Arbor Lane" they've been informed their homes should be demolished.
It is understood that work to clear one of the homes may now be under way, but some of the other property owners are not committed to demolition.
Earlier this week, Peter Byatt, leader of the Labour group at East Suffolk Council, said he was "saddened at the loss of ‘The Rosary’ and the very real threat to the other properties on the clifftop."