Landslip sparks fears Hallsands house could fall into sea

  • 6 May 2012
  • From the section Devon
Hallsands landslide
Image caption Part of a barn at the property has already fallen into the sea

A house on the edge of a cliff in Devon has been evacuated amid fears it could fall into the sea.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the owner of the house in Hallsands, called Sea View, contacted emergency services after a large landslide.

Part of a stone barn has collapsed into the sea and a viewing balcony has started to slip.

A holiday let next door to the property, which is empty, could also be in danger.

Sea View was bought by the Williams family in the 1960s and work was carried out to shore up the house.

'Pretty gutting'

More recently - in the 1990s - work was undertaken to strengthen the access road.

Owner Peter Williams, who now lives in London but was spending the bank holiday weekend at Sea View with three other adults and two children, said he was aware of the danger of coastal erosion, but added that the thought of losing the house was "pretty gutting".

"We're all aware it's going to go at some point though," he told BBC News.

He said the work done by his father, grandfather and uncle when the house was first bought, had kept the family going for more than 40 years.

"My dad's buried up on the hill above the house, so he's watching over it and he'll see it go, I guess," he added.

Insp Andy Oliver, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said part of the access road had given way and a stone wall had collapsed.

Footpaths in the area have been closed and a cordon has been put in place to keep the public away.

Image caption Structural engineers are at the scene to try to assess the stability of the house

Structural engineers are at the scene to try to assess the stability of the house. Coastguards and Devon County Council staff are also there.

A police helicopter took aerial photographs of the area, which show a cave below the access road.

Insp Oliver said the priority was to ensure no-one was in danger before deciding what needed to be done with the house.

"The main thing is to see who's at risk now and what measures do we need to protect the public," he said.

Structural engineers will return on Tuesday to assess the situation.

In January 1917, the fishing village of Hallsands collapsed into the sea and a total of 29 homes were lost.

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