£7m plan to protect hundreds of north Norfolk coastal homes to begin

Chris Taylor Photo Cromer Storm Corrie North Norfolk Video

Powerful waves hit Cromer sea front on Monday, shooting spray up into the air - Credit: Chris Taylor Photo

Multi-million-pound work to protect more than a thousand homes on the Norfolk coast are set to begin later this year.

Homes along the north Norfolk coast are particularly susceptible to coastal erosion, with a storm surge in 2013 causing extensive damage to the coastline.

Now a fresh round of protection measures has been revealed for two stretches of the coast at Cromer and Mundesley. 

The cliff fall threw tonnes of sand and soil onto the beach at Mundesley in north Norfolk. 

The cliff fall threw tonnes of sand and soil onto the beach at Mundesley in north Norfolk. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Plans include steel sheet walls and concrete foundations to a section of historic flint defences in Cromer, as well as rock protection and timber construction protections in Mundesley.

The schemes should protect 758 homes in Cromer and 510 homes in Mundesley.

This is the second phase of defence improvements for Cromer, with works first proposed in the 1990s. It was not until 2013 the first phase was finally completed. 

Ahead of a meeting of North Norfolk District Council's (NNDC) cabinet on Monday, officers warned that beaches offer the primary coastal defence but are reducing in size, decreasing their impact and leading to "larger more powerful waves".

Cromer Pier is one of Norfolk's most famous landmarks

Cromer Pier is one of Norfolk's most famous landmarks - Credit: Antony Kelly

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Speaking at the meeting, Wendy Fredericks, ward member for Mundesley, said the scheme was welcomed by her constituents, saying it would "safeguard their houses and safeguard their businesses". 

The council's new leader, Tim Adams, said the scheme demonstrated the council's commitment to sea defences. 

Mr Adams acknowledged that elements of the scheme may be "controversial".

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Adams explained that the 'rock armour' -stones placed to protect the shoreline - may be different to what people are familiar with.

However, he said the structure was needed to protect the beach, especially after a winter that has seen damage to walls and material turned up onto the promenade.

"I think it's the best thing for Cromer but I accept it is a big change. It's a really good scheme and I'm hoping there won't be much disruption to businesses.

“I think it will make a significant difference to Cromer and Mundesley.”

Tim Adams, one of the co-ordinators of Cromer Cares community group.

Tim Adams, one of the co-ordinators of Cromer Cares community group. - Credit: Tim Adams

Angie Fitch-Tillett, cabinet member for the coast, said the authority wanted to start work by the autumn and appoint contractors "very shortly". 

“Cromer and Mundesley are tourist destinations – it is not a good idea to start digging up beaches while tourists are there looking forward to enjoying them," she said.

Phase two of the Cromer scheme, which is expected to cost £3,934,000, will be 100pc funded through the Environment Agency.

The Mundesley scheme will cost around £3,475,000, with £2,905,000 coming from the EA, £20,000 from Mundesley Parish Council, £250,000 from Anglian Water and £300,000 from NNDC.

The cabinet approved progressing with the sea defences plans.

What do the works include?

The Cromer plans seek to refurbish the timber groynes - wooden walls that trap sediments - install steel sheets walls and a concrete foundations apron to historic flint defences and place "rock armour" on the western end of defences.

It would also see a rock 'revetment' - a sloped structure that absorbs the energy of incoming water - placed in front of the sea wall to the west of the pier.

Cromer storms - pics by John Nield

Cromer storms - pics by John Nield - Credit: Archant

The Mundesley plans would also refurbish timber groynes, install rock protection for the lifeboat and Anglian Water pumping station, bolster concrete revetment below the church with rock armour.

A stockpile of rock that can be redeployed to assist with managing timber revetments to the west of the village will also be created.