Ex-soldier’s dream home on coast at risk again after Storm Darcy rips away more land

News

A man who has spent three years battling to save his clifftop home has lost another 15ft of land during Storm Darcy.

Lance Martin, 63, gave up his London commute in 2017 and ploughed his £95,000 life savings into ‘Dune Fall’ on the Norfolk coast.

Estate agents told the former soldier he could expect to enjoy three decades in the property if erosion continued at the rate of 1m a year.

But the Beast from the East and subsequent storms have seen Lance’s garden disappear 12 times as fast as predicted.

Over the weekend 70mph gales caused by Storm Darcy washed away another huge slice of the cliff – leaving the dad-of-one in a precarious position.

Surveying a huge line of concrete blocks he previously installed using a JCB, Lance told the Mirror: “I know I can’t stop the sea.

“But I’m doing everything I can to block the force of the waves.

“It’s clearly working because I’m on a bit of a peninsula now, the neighbouring plots are at least 2m further back.

“I will never give up, it’s my dream home – I love the birdwatching, the wildlife and the views.”

In 2017 ex Grenadier Guardsman Lance was living in a flat in Dagenham, Essex, commuting on the tube to work in security at the Department of Education.

But one morning he woke up and decided he’d “had enough” – prompting him to sell up and move to Hemsby on the Norfolk coast.

When he bought the wooden home in November 2017 it was separated from the sea by a towering sand dune and 30m of clifftop.

But just four months later erosion caused by the Beast from the East forced the council to evict all 13 homeowners on his street.

Lance’s home is the only one which still remains after he persuaded a farmer to drag it 10m inland using an industrial winch.

He added: “I’m over the moon with that decision, if I hadn’t taken the risk I wouldn’t be here now.”

The relocation bought Lance time, which he used by hiring a JCB to deposit massive concrete blocks below the cliff.

They have temporarily slowed the rate of erosion, but cannot defend against severe weather events like Storm Darcy.

The french doors of his home are now only 11m from the edge of the cliff.

Lance hopes a scheme to install a 5m wide strip of rocks along the Hemsby coast will be completed this year.

If this fails to protect his home he will move it over the road onto an empty patch of land.

He added: “My immediate thoughts are get a digger down here, rearrange the blocks, see the worst of the storm through then reassess after that.

“But I’ve still got the option of what I call Plan Z, which is levelling the plot directly behind my property and trying to slide it [his home]across to there.

“The landowners have said I could have it but I think there’ll be a cost involved so, as I said, that’s Plan Z.”