I won't take erosion payout for my home

A woman whose home is likely to fall into the sea says she will refuse thousands of pounds of compensation to which she would be entitled.

Bryony Nierop-Reading's home is within a few yards of an eroding cliff edge, uninsurable and not worth much in financial terms.

But recently the government announced funds to allow the purchase and demolition of homes like this by the local authority, allowing her to escape from the apparent Catch-22 situation and put the cash into another property.

But that was the moment she chose to take the less than obvious choice.

She says that when she bought her three-bedroom Happisburgh bungalow, on the now famous Beach Road, she knew the risks and has now refused to take any money, while issuing a warning that she will not be moved against her will.

"I think it would be totally immoral of me to take any money at all," said the 64-year-old.

"I love my house, the views are stunning - in fact that is why I bought the place - and I believe the house will be fine for 10 years. I want to live there and die there.

"If there were any idea of the house being compulsorily purchased, I would fight that."

She added: "I am thrilled to bits for the other people who are going to be offered payments.

"But their situation is very different from mine. I bought this home last year and I was completely aware of the situation and the risks.

"The other people have been here a long time and thought they would be protected by the old sea defences which have now been removed. I always knew the reality of what I was buying in to."

Mrs Nierop-Reading bought the property for £25,000, a large mark-down on what it would be worth if it was in another location. The details of the compensation scheme are still being worked out, but will be influenced by the purchase price.

The house is the second last on Beach Road before the cliff-line. When she first bought it, she believed the house would be safe for two to three years. But she believes with the way the cliff has been eroding recently and the protection provided by the 2007 rock armour scheme, paid for by £200,000 from North Norfolk District Council and around £50,000 raised by the community, that could be extended to as long as 10 years.

"I am desperate to stay," she said. "Not only that, I am worried that while the compensation issue is being fought, the idea of preserving the coastline, which I think is very important, is being lost."

Mrs Nierop-Reading is known for her campaign to save the architecturally-important Whitlingham hospital conservatory at Trowse, near Norwich, and the city's historic Plantation Gardens. She has three daughters and six grandchildren.

As reported in the EDP on Wednesday, the district council has received £3m of Defra funding to address a range of coastal challenges, including the ability to buy and demolish some at risk homes and to buy and lease back some slightly less at risk homes.

The council's head of coastal strategy Peter Frew said there was no obligation on any person to accept the financial offers which will be made under the pilot schemes.

He said: "There is no compulsory element to this. But it is also important to note that if a house is unsafe or uninhabitable there are already standard procedures in place which permits the council to serve a notice on an owner."