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Homes on cliff edge evacuated amid fears they could plunge into sea during storm

There were fears the houses could collapse due to coastal erosion in Norfolk.

Watch: Cliff edge homes evacuated amid fears they could plunge into sea during storm surge

Residents had to be evacuated from their cliff-edge homes overnight amid fears their houses could plunge into the sea during a storm surge.

At least five people were told to leave their homes as 50mph winds and a high tide of 3.7 metres threatened properties perching on a small sand cliff in Hemsby, Norfolk, on Friday.

Coastguard workers helped fleeing homeowners and watched as patio slabs in some of their gardens slipped into the sea.

Hemsby, which has 3,000 residents, has suffered from severe coastal erosion in recent years with a number of properties abandoned as the cliffs slip away.

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50mph winds and a high tide of 3.7m threatened properties perching on a small sand cliff in Hemsby, Norfolk.
50mph winds and a high tide of 3.7m threatened properties perching on a small sand cliff in Hemsby, Norfolk. (SWNS)
The Hemsby shoreline in January 2023. (SWNS)
The Hemsby shoreline in January 2023. (SWNS)

Several residents moved all their belongings out of their homes last night and were taken to a village hall and some may now need to be permanently rehomed.

Coastguards also revealed that the cliff erosion had created a new 10 ft drop from the beach into the sea, meaning the local lifeboat can no longer be launched.

Hemsby lifeboat's coxswain Dan Hurd said: "It's a bloody mess down there right now. If you see the sea right now you wouldn't believe it.

"A lot of people are upset, they had to get out of their properties last night and some left their belongings- fully furnished houses, food in the cupboard, all there.

"One refused to leave but we managed to persuade them to go into a hotel.

"I think it's disgusting that the government haven't signed off on measures that could help prevent this."

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Lance Martin's property during te storm. (SWNS)
Lance Martin's property during the storm. (SWNS)
Lance Martin with his property in 2018. (SWNS)
Lance Martin with his property in 2018. (SWNS)

Among the homes threatened is that of retired Grenadier Guardsman Lance Martin, 65, who in 2018 moved his £95,000 detached property back 10.5m from the cliff edge to stop it from toppling into the sea.

When he bought the house in 2017 he was told by an environmental impact study that he would have 30-40 years before the cliff edge reached his house, until the Beast from the East storm ate 30 metres from his back garden in 2018.

He was evacuated last night and went to stay in Lowestoft to await the storm.

Pictures of his property show waves swilling around his back garden, which is now only a few metres deep.

Lance's road, The Marrams, at the edge of the cliff is now at risk of being eroded underneath by the tide.

Lance Martin's property in 2018. (SWNS)
Lance Martin's property in 2018. (SWNS)

Dan fears this road will need to be closed off permanently if the next tide eats away more sand from under the tarmac.

This would mean at least seven residents at the end of that road would need to be permanently rehomed.

Their houses would be condemned according to Dan as the road was their last access point and emergency services would no longer be able to get to them.

Hemsby residents have been fighting to get a rock berm in place in a bid to help stop the erosion even further.

The planning permission was due to come through a year ago, but the government's Marine Management Organisation has yet to sign off on the plans.