Ex-soldier, 63, loses another 15 feet of land during Storm Darcy

Ex-soldier, 63, who is desperately trying to stop his dream home collapsing off a crumbling Norfolk cliff loses another 15 feet of land during Storm Darcy

  • Lance Martin, 63, spent his £95,000 life savings on his dream home by the sea in Hemsby, Norfolk, in 2017
  • Four months later the Beast from the East decimated the cliff edge leaving his house teetering on the edge
  • Estate agent surveys had claimed he would be able to enjoy at least three decades in his clifftop home
  • After this week’s Storm Darcy the former soldier lost another 15 feet of land at the end of his garden 

A former soldier who spent £100,000 trying to save his dream home on a rapidly eroding Norfolk clifftop has lost another 15ft of land during Storm Darcy. 

Lance Martin, 63, left his flat in Dagenham, London, in 2017 and spent his £95,000 life savings on a house 100ft back from a cliff edge in Hemsby, Norfolk. 

Estate agent surveys told him he could enjoy three decades there as erosion was estimated to reduce the size of sand dunes by three feet a year. At the time, Mr Martin said he couldn’t see the sea when he stood on his roof because of the towering dune.

But four years later he faces losing his home to the elements as the Beast from the East and subsequent storms decimate the coastline.

Over the weekend Storm Darcy’s 70mph gales washed away a section of the cliff – taking with it another part of the father-of-one’s garden. 

Lance Martin (pictured on Wednesday), 63, spent his £95,000 life savings in 2017 to buy a house 100ft back from a cliff edge in Hemsby, Norfolk

Estate agents told him he could enjoy three decades at the home as erosion would only continue at three feet a year. Pictured, more of the coast has eroded. Pictured on Wednesday

Estate agent surveys told him he could enjoy three decades at the home as erosion would only continue at three feet a year. At the time Mr Martin revealed he couldn’t see the sea when he stood on his roof because of a towering sand dune

Around 100ft of sand dunes were lost to the Beast from the East in 2018 and out of an original 13 homes on his road, his is the only one left.  

He told the Mirror: ‘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.’

Mr Martin, who served with the British Army from 1978 to 2000, said he hopes to get through the rest of the week’s adverse weather and rearrange 75 two-tonne concrete blocks on the beach below to break the force of the waves.

He paid thousands of pounds to partially rebuild the property after it was left teetering on the edge of the cliff in 2018. His bill last year stood at about £100,000 in renovations. 

‘The tide with the high winds behind it has really done a lot of damage to the dunes,’ he said. ‘The blocks that I put down there are just about holding up. I’ve lost about 15ft of dune.

Over the weekend Storm Darcy’s 70mph gales washed away a section of the cliff – taking with it another part of the father-of-one’s garden. Pictured, Mr Martin in 2018 after the Beast from the East

Mr Lance used a JCB to pile concrete blocks up around the base of the cliff to try to block the force of the waves

Mr Martin, who served with the British Army from 1978 to 2000, said he hopes to get through the rest of the week’s adverse weather and rearrange 75 two-tonne concrete blocks on the beach below to break the force of the waves

Around 100ft of sand dunes were lost to the Beast from the East in 2018 and out of an original 13 homes on his road, his is the only one left

‘I had a green fence down there with warning signs up and that’s disappeared, that’s gone. It’s not looking good at the moment.’

The former Grenadier Guardsman said strong winds are forecast today and tomorrow, and he hopes to better his defences as soon as he can, using a digger to rearrange them.

Friends have helped with labour in the past, but Mr Martin said: ‘That’s a problem at the moment with lockdown and movement restrictions, it’s hard to get that help.’

He added: ‘I’m hoping to realign the blocks and put them in a better configuration to try and – not stop the sea because I know I’ll never do that – but break the force of the waves so when they hit the bottom of the dune it’s more of a trickle than a tap running if that makes sense.

‘My immediate thoughts are get a digger down here, rearrange the blocks, see the worst of the storm through then reassess after that.’

Mr Martin’s back garden has virtually disappeared over the last four years due to storms gradually eroding away the coast, leaving the father-of-one’s property teetering on the edge (pictured after the storms in 2018) 

He paid thousands of pounds to partially rebuild the property after it was left teetering on the edge of the cliff in 2018. His bill last year stood at about £100,000 in renovations

The former Grenadier Guardsman said strong winds are forecast today and tomorrow, and he hopes to better his defences as soon as he can, using a digger to rearrange them

Friends have helped with labour in the past, but Mr Martin said: ‘That’s a problem at the moment with lockdown and movement restrictions, it’s hard to get that help.’ Pictured, the devastation in 2018

Mr Martin bought his home for £95,000 cash in 2017 and spent a further £70,000 on improvements after he retired from his security job in London

A aerial view shows Mr Martin’s home surrounded by other properties back in 2017. A year later, 11 of his direct neighbours were evacuated and their homes demolished, leaving his the closest still standing to the cliff-edge

He revealed he still had Plan Z, which was to level the plot behind his property and slide his home further back from the cliff edge. 

‘I don’t own (the plot behind) but the landowners have said I could have it. I think there’ll be a cost involved so, as I said, that’s Plan Z,’ he added.

His home was previously dragged 32ft back from the cliff edge by a farmer using an industrial winch. 

Mr Martin said after the Beast from the East: ‘I think the determination, the guts and everything – the Army has prepared me for worst case scenarios and everything.’

In 2013, seven homes in the coastal village of Hemsby were either washed away or badly damaged when the biggest tidal surge for 60 years hit the Norfolk coast. 

Mr Martin bought his home for £95,000 cash in 2017 and spent a further £70,000 on improvements after he retired from his security job in London.

He said he could stand on the roof and still not see the sea when he moved in, and was told by a survey to expect one metre of dune loss per year to erosion. Now, his french doors are 36ft from the edge of the cliff.      

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