The clifftop community in Suffolk losing their dream homes to the sea

  • Watch Rob Setchell's report for ITV News Anglia

A couple from Suffolk say they are "heartbroken" after their adored their clifftop home had to be demolished.

The Rosary Cottage in Pakefield near Lowestoft, had been in the family since 2009 when Lorraine Lovett's mother brought it from some friends - describing it as 'her favourite place to be.'

When she died in 2016 she left it to Ms Lovett and her husband Tim who began renovating it.

Now that cottage is reduced to rubble - deemed too unsafe by the local council.

Despite the family's desperate attempts to protect it - even paying for old rifle range walls to be moved to the bottom of the cliffs - it was not enough to save the property.

Some residents even moved old rifle range walls that had fallen on to the beach to the bottom of the cliffs hoping it would buy them time Credit: ITV News Anglia

Ms Lovett told ITV News Anglia said she was heartbroken to lose a property she called magical - one that she felt she had an emotional bond with.

"Unfortunately the walls alone were not enough to save The Rosary and it’s neighbouring properties," she said.

"We will never regret the time, love and money spent in bringing The Rosary to its full beauty and know it has given many people as well as ourselves memories to treasure for always.

"We will go and take a look at the empty sight where it once proudly stood on Saturday although I’m dreading turning that corner and not seeing the unique and beautiful Rosary waiting to welcome us.

"I guess our only blessing is that our mums never had to witness The Rosary’s demolition."

Clive Crossley is part of the Pakefield Coast Protection Group and fears his home will be lost to the elements Credit: ITV News Anglia

Other nearby residents fear for the future of their "dream homes" - and are calling for sea defences before it is too late.

Clive Crossley fears his retirement dream is also being eroded. He moved here 15 years ago - building a home a bit further back from the cliff. 

He is part of the community campaign for sea defences.

He said: "If we wait another three years I dread to think where we will be. The road will probably be gone and our properties will be gone. There are nine residential properties in this road, and I fear for them."

The council says the rate of coastal erosion here since 2019 has been unprecedented. Credit: ITV News Anglia

As well as The Rosary the local council has deemed three other properties unsafe - and advised they be demolished.

In a statement a spokesperson for East Suffolk Council said: “During the winter of 2019/2020 there were concerns that more extreme periods of winter weather predicted at that time might result in enough loss of cliff to put properties seaward of the access road in Arbor Lane at significant risk.

"It was at this point that property owners were initially approached and the potential risk explained.

"However, the recent period of extreme weather brought by Storms Arwen and Barra caused significant damage to the cliffs in front of four properties seaward of Arbor Lane.  

“This latest period of cliff erosion has meant that those four properties are now at the cliff edge and demolition is advisable. East Suffolk Council continue to provide advice and support to property owners to make sure that they have access to information and grants to help them with the costs of demolition.”