Happisburgh storm surge victim loses appeal to stay in caravan refuge

Happisburgh Beach Road resident, Bryony Nierop-Reading, pictured in her caravan. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Happisburgh Beach Road resident, Bryony Nierop-Reading, pictured in her caravan. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A woman who lost her clifftop home in the North Sea storm surge two years ago is facing homelessness again.

Bryony Nierop-Reading has been told she must quit the caravan she has been using as a temporary home since her Beach Road bungalow in Happisburgh was demolished in December 2013.

Grandmother Mrs Nierop-Reading, 70, has lost an appeal against a North Norfolk District Council enforcement notice against her.

The council said Mrs Nierop-Reading was breaking the rules by using the caravan, on the landward side of Beach Road, as a home without planning permission.

She appealed against the notice but government Planning Inspectorate inspector Felix Bourne has dismissed her appeal.

However, Mr Bourne has extended the six-month compliance period to one year, giving Mrs Nierop-Reading more time to find another home.

His decision notice added that the council had the power to increase the period further 'if circumstances necessitated it.'

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'I'm a bit shell-shocked,' she said. 'It's been hanging over my head like a black cloud for such a long time.

'I do feel it was a very fair decision. The inspectors were quite impartial. They had to observe all the legalities and I think they have come up with a very Solomon-like judgment to give the council what it wanted and to give me long enough to sort myself out.'

Mrs Nierop-Reading said the strain and uncertainty she had been living under since receiving the enforcement notice had given her depression and a sense of blight.

She hopes to buy a permanent home in Happisburgh and had unsuccessfully asked the council to let her stay in the caravan until autumn next year.

She owns a house in Witton, near North Walsham, which is lived in by her daughter and family who want to buy it from her, but who have not yet been able to arrange a mortgage.

Mrs Nierop-Reading, who moved to Happisburgh in 2009, said she had made many friends in Happisburgh and loved being part of an integrated community.

She plans to spend Christmas day with village friends enjoying a meal at Happisburgh's Halt coffee shop and carvery, attached to the Hill House pub.

A North Norfolk District Council spokesman said: 'The appeal decision has been noted.'