Val and Bob Tomlinson, a 70-year old retired couple from Pagham in West Sussex, consider their beach front bungalow to be their pride and joy. Bob built it 40 years ago, not just as their ideal home away from it all, but also as a nest egg for retirement. So they have been shocked to hear that their home is essentially worthless.
The couple told Channel Five's Britain's Horror Homesprogramme, screened last night and available on demand, that for the first thirty years it was perfect having the beach at the end of the garden.
However, over the last decade, the shingle beach has started eroding at a rate of around five metres a year. The storms in January last year had a devastating effect, damaging the sea defences and washing away still more of the beach. That night the sea came within nine metres of their home, and they said they were scared for their lives.
The couple grew so concerned that they looked into selling their home, but they were told they wouldn't get anything for it at this stage.
The locals have started a group to Save Pagham Beach and Village, to raise enough money to protect the defences in place at the moment. Whether that is enough to stop the erosion of the beach in future remains to be seen.
The Tomlinsons are not alone in facing this horror. Climate change and extreme weather has changed erosion patterns and put an increasing number of homes at risk. The government estimates that over the next 20 years, 200 homes will be made unsafe by coastal erosion and a further 2,000 will be at risk.
There have been several high profile news stories of homes that fell victim to coastal erosion. In December 2013 the village of Hemsby in Norfolk was devastated by a storm surge when five properties were washed into the sea
In August last year we reported on the home at the end of a cliff top terrace in Birling Gap near Eastbourne. It was being demolished, to avoid the risk of it falling into the sea and taking more properties with it. It was the third cottage in the terrace to have suffered the same fate in 30 years.
And in June 2013 we reported on the clifftop street in Torquay which was gradually falling into the sea. One homeowner had bought a property at auction without realising its perilous position. A week later it was declared unsafe, and it has since fallen over the cliff. In 2013, another property was deemed to be at risk, and the owners put it up for auction in the hope of salvaging some value from the property. The beautiful four-bedroom home eventually sold at auction for £33,500.
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