Ex-soldier's drastic £100k plan to stop home falling off cliff

A former soldier whose home is at risk of falling into the sea is building his own sea defences.

Lance Martin, 62, has spent £100,000 trying to save his wooden bungalow, which he has moved 30ft inland. He hired a digger to stack up 63 massive boulders in a horseshoe shape to protect the base of the cliffs.

Lance, who lives with partner Vicki, said: “While I don’t want to give it up, it is up to the sea.”

Lance, who spent 22 years in the Grenadier Guards, retired in 2017 selling his Essex flat for the three-bed bungalow in Hemsby, Norfolk.

When he moved in there was 120ft of land between him and the beach, and he was advised that he would not be at risk until 2057. But the Beast from the East storm in February 2018 claimed 90ft of cliff in just two nights.

Lance’s work moving abandoned sea defence boulders has been backed by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

But he claims he has now been granted consent on the understanding that he fills in any holes left on the beach.

He has hired a 22 tonne digger for a week at a cost of around £650 including transport and fuel.

Lance added: “The rocks are about a metre to 1.5 metres under the beach so I am having to dig down to find out where they are. I know if I have found one if I hit something solid and I can dig around it to get it out with the digger’s claw “I am doing the work now while the beach is quiet and I am not really causing any disruption.

“Most people are extremely supportive of what I am doing. My idea is to get as much protection as I can now so I don’t lie in bed at night worrying.”

A Great Yarmouth Borough Council spokesperson said: “In late 2018, the council offered planning advice to a resident following the excavation of sand and relocation of sea defence blocks at Hemsby without the necessary prior approval of the council as local planning authority.

“Subsequently, the resident consulted with the council about his proposals to relocate other blocks from a different section of beach. The council gave permission, based on the information presented in his proposals.

“The council is working with the community to explore and identify suitable approaches for managing that dynamic stretch of coastline, both in the medium and longer terms.”