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Lyme Regis chalet owners' upset as two more are demolished
LYME Regis chalet owners have told of their ‘harrowing and upsetting’ experience as two more are condemned following continued land slippage.
They packed into an extraordinary meeting called by Lyme Regis Town Council this week for members to consider the implications of movement at Ware Cliff and Monmouth Beach.
Deputy town clerk John Wright confirmed that two more chalets are being demolished, bringing the total number of holiday homes lost to nine and a financial loss of just over £35,000 to the council.
Chalet owner Jane Whittington, who is also the town’s mayoress, will not be issued with a site licence at the moment because of significant impact damage to a wall at the back of the property.
But she has praised the council, especially Mr Wright and the authority’s geotechnical engineer Peter Chapman, for their support.
She said: “We would all like to thank John and Peter for their continued help and support over the last few very harrowing and upsetting weeks, and to those councillors who have offered their support to the community to the west of the Cobb.
“We have been working together as a community to help and support those who have so far lost their sites for the foreseeable future and for those whose sites are at risk.”
Mrs Whittington said some of the owners have worked together to move her chalet and two others forward.
“The community of Monmouth Beach sincerely hope that the council will find a way forward to preserve the sites down there,” she said. “We are all very supportive of the idea of moving further forward if at all possible and we would offer any help or expertise if the council would care to ask us.”
But there was criticism for the council’s handling of the situation from Tim Mayers, whose chalet was demolished last month but has since had no contact from the authority.
He said: “Four weeks ago you sat at a meeting here and promised you would send us a letter.”
Mr Mayers said the safety of the site is a concern to him, with people going in and out as they please.
Mr Wright said: “We have done the best in trying to make it secure, that health and safety is complied with, and allowed flexibility to allow people to collect their assets.”
People with day huts on Monmouth Beach are also concerned that their property will be lost soon.
Day hut owner Fran Williams said: “Some of the huts already suffered damage back in July and we lost the back of our hut.
“The proposal is that you move the huts considerably further forward so that the cars could get behind so they are removed from the danger of the slippage, perhaps in line with the caravans.
“Potentially the day huts could come forward quite quickly and quite soon because at the moment we are sitting like lame ducks.”
Financial loss for the council
LYME Regis Town Council is facing huge financial losses with little hope of the land stabilising soon.
Deputy clerk John Wright said the worst case scenario would be that the council receives no income from Monmouth Beach this year.
He said: “As it stands we are looking at losses of the mid £30,000, that’s provided we don’t issue any site licences on Monmouth Beach and don’t collect any income from sites that have been decommissioned.”
The council will not issue licences to 10 chalets at Monmouth Beach until a land stability report is carried out.
They have also been forced to decommission four sites, where the extent of movement has left them unusable for the foreseeable future.
The access road to Monmouth Beach remains sealed off after a wall in front of chalet 22 collapsed on Wednesday.
Mr Wright said chalets 22 and 23 are not salvageable and will be demolished.
He said the situation has been made worse because the demolition of 22 has not been done immediately “It is now causing the wall to fall onto the road and now there is the risk of potential collapse of that chalet,” he said.
Mr Wright said there has been significant impact on walls behind chalets 24 to 26, which has also started to impact on 27.
“It is like a domino effect,” he said.
Mr Wright said the height between levels has started to increase by up to 15 inches in some areas.
“Chasms have started to open up” he said. “This indicates that things have not settled down.”
Coun Daryl Turner said he has asked for the advice of Richard Edmonds, Jurassic coast earth science manager at Dorset County Council.
Coun Turner said: “He said if the normal drying process occurs the likelihood is that there could be a major fall.”
There is also concern about whether the site will get planning permission, which is due to be renewed on July 1.