Norfolk

Storm surge victim Bryony Nierop-Reading battles caravan eviction

Bryony Nierop-Reading
Image caption Bryony Nierop-Reading has lived in her caravan for the past year

A woman who lost her home to the sea says she is "fighting to keep her life together" after being threatened with eviction from her caravan.

Bryony Nierop-Reading, 70, was forced to live in her field after her bungalow in Happisburgh, Norfolk, fell over the cliff during last winter's tidal surge.

But North Norfolk District Council says she needs permission to live there.

Ms Nierop-Reading says she is "on the verge of losing everything". The council has yet to comment.

The former teacher moved to her 1930s bungalow on Beach Road in 2008.

As the cliff-face eroded, virtually all of her neighbours moved out two years later after accepting compensation from North Norfolk District Council.

'Brain turned into a sponge'

Believing she would enjoy another 20 or so years of spectacular sea views, she declined.

But a few harsh winters, along with a clear-up of the ageing sea defences on the beach, left her home teetering on the edge within five years.

Image copyright Mike Page
Image caption In 1998, Ms Nierop-Reading's bungalow was separated from the cliff face by a garden, road and neighbours
Image copyright Mike Page
Image caption By Easter 2013, Mother Nature had left the property just metres from a sheer drop to the beach
Image copyright Mike Page
Image caption The cliff edge was carved under her house during last December's tidal surge on the east coast

She has since moved to her caravan, which for years has been sitting on her land near the house. However, the council says she cannot live in it long-term unless she gets planning permission.

With the sea a few feet away, she has been told it is unlikely to be granted.

Ms Nierop-Reading says she wants to stay in the caravan until 2016 when her daughter and son-in-law, who are tenants in her inland home, will be able to buy it from her. This will then enable her to purchase another Happisburgh house.

But if she is told to leave beforehand, she says she will be homeless and unable to guard her workshop, which she feels will be targeted by thieves.

"I knew some day it would come, but losing the home has caused such a sense of shock which I'm only just recovering from. My brain turned into a sponge," said Ms Nierop-Reading.

Image caption The foundations and flooring of the house disappeared in the storm
Image caption The home was eventually demolished, but Ms Nierop-Reading's workshop remains

"At the age of 70 I've lost my house and now I'm on the verge of losing everything. I'm fighting to keep my life together."

The council, which has threatened Ms Nierop-Reading with an eviction notice but not yet enforced one, has yet to comment.

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