The “unsellable” street: Catastrophic cliff falls threaten homes

14:18 14 February 2013

A view of the eroded cliffs from one of the gardens in Cliff Road Sidmouth. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 7660-06-13TI To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24

A view of the eroded cliffs from one of the gardens in Cliff Road Sidmouth. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 7660-06-13TI To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24

Archant

‘Three years’ from home loss, says longest-standing resident

A CLIFF-TOP resident who thought he had decades left in his home fears “catastrophic” coastal collapses could claim it in just three years.

John Radford, 62, says a pair of massive landslips in the space of a few weeks decimated around 15 feet of his garden – and that more major falls are inevitable.

Mr Radford, who has co-owned 1 Cliff Road for 45 years and is the street’s longest-standing resident, said: “The houses here are unsellable and unmortgageable. The people living in them are trapped. Insurance doesn’t cover erosion.”

A scheme to remedy Sidmouth’s receding eastern coastline looks to be two years from becoming a reality. Wet weather at the end of last year led to several major cliff falls that saw residents rename Pennington Point as “Pennington Cove”.

Retired solicitor Mr Radford said: “Before the disaster of November, I was reasonably sanguine and thought we’d get another 20 to 25 years. We could be out in three.

“The amount of garden we lost in the course of six weeks was more than in 12 years.

“They were catastrophic and certainly the two biggest falls I’ve ever seen. The difference between the end of November and a year before is absolutely astonishing.

“We are very lucky to be second home owners. I feel dreadfully sorry for people in the road, who are older than me, who are not.

“I’m worried about my property, but I’m equally concerned about Alma Bridge and the town. We’re getting to the stage where banks of the River Sid will be exposed – and that stands between Sidmouth and flooding.

“It could be 24 months before we get a scheme. So much will have been lost by then.”

Paul Griew, leader of the Cliff Road Action Group, said November’s landslips had been “quite disasterous”.

He said other residents in the street expected to lose their properties within around 20 years.

“Talks are going at half the speed that one would like, while the cliff erosion is accelerating,” he said.

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