Beware buying near the water's edge

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Well, they were sold on the basis of offering a sea view…

When I first visited Soulac-sur-Mer… I envied those folk in their seaside appartments… then, over the years, I realized the sad reality… and since 2014 it’s been looking sad/ghastly .

They’re in a dreadful situation. Like those poor folks on the English East coast whose home was hundreds of metres from a cliff edge when they bought it but now have direct access to the beach…

Here’s one of dozens of reports:

Mainly that they have properties that are worth £0 - many people affected by poor fire cladding are in the same boat.

In the case of the cladding people had no control over what was installed and as well as having worthless properties they are often being asked to stump up thousands for repairs or interim (frequently ineffective) measures. If we had a government that cared homeowners would be protected from the poor decisions made by their landlords; but we don’t, we have a government that would rather protect the landlords and let the home owners suffer.

In the case of coastal properties I could  find myself having a smidge less sympathy, depending on when the property was bought as coastal erosion in Norfolk is hardly a new phenomenon, but you are right - some of these properties were 100’s of metres away from the coast when built.

They look a bit like Hitler’s old Butlin’s, on a small scale. I visited them in 2016 when I was having a mooch around Peenemünde.

This shows how far from the sea the property was built…
and the lower photo shows the property’s situation in 2014…

And the moral of the tale is mess with nature at your peril…

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Sand drowned the old church/priory in the heart of the town… but that was centuries ago…

now it’s the sea which threatens to drown the town… little by little…

One can’t help but wonder why sea defences weren’t built, but it’s a bit late now.

In the case of Norfolk it has been a conscious decision in some places as they often merely push erosion along the coast rather than prevent it completely.

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One can’t help but wonder why sea defences weren’t built, but it’s a bit late now.

They were, it was called The themes Barrage to protect London, but why waste money on the rest of the country, as apposed to the Dutch who saw the light in 1953 and have been very active since 1966 protecting there people and property.
In to days press there is a brand new 17 story block of flats been built on the bank of the River Avon . The bank has slipped exposing the foundations upse.

The situation is a bit different in the Netherlands though as so much land was reclaimed in the first place.

Oooh were you looking at rocket sites? How fascinating.

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I was thinking of Soulac-sur-Mer rather than anywhere in the UK, though I have also expressed similar questions about parts of Britain.

One of the problems is the indifference? / stupidity? / corruption? in local councils.

I grew up in and around Leatherhead which is on the River Mole. It occasionally does this.


There is a reason why the land to the right of the photo has no properties on it - it is floodplain.

This photo I think was probably 1968. In more recent years the council gave permission for a developer to build flats on the right bank. The ground floor was garage space - sensible - but still not a happy experience for the owners of the flats whose cars were damaged. I blame the council for giving permission in the first place.

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My wife wants a sea view for the next house so I suggested 10 miles in-land. Give it a few years.

And the allowing of building on flood plains in the UK… then the homeowners get flooded and worse and no insurance will cover them.

About 15 years ago, one of our clients built a substantial new office in the flood plain of a river to the South East of London, all passed and stamped by the local planning department.

Within 4 weeks of moving in there was a period of heavy rain and the entire car park and ground floor were flooded causing huge damage to the expensive electronics and staff vehicles.

Two interesting points:

  • They were a wholly-owned subsidiary of an insurance company

  • Their insurance policy did not cover against flood damage


And yet insurers tell us what we can do and how to run our lives