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Legal battle over land shapes up

A legal battle over a scheme to help the victims of coastal erosion in Waveney, Suffolk, is becoming more and more likely.

Paul England, a retired architect, said he believed he had secured a promise from Waveney District Council in 2010 to protect his land-rights on a vulnerable site close to the coast at Easton Bavents, according to the Eastern Daily Press (EDP 24).

Mr England said the agreement was framed under the Pathfinder Scheme, which allows certain planning permissions to be put into place for residents near to the sea who are at risk of a cliff collapse.

A chalet and mobile home had both been sited on the affected plot, which is known locally as 'The Retreat', but the former was demolished in 2010 amid the threat posed by erosion, while the caravan burned down in 2006.

But a recent ruling by Waveney District Council dictated that the chalet had not been used for residential purposes before Mr England bought it in 2004 and this meant it should not have been used as a home.

Members of the authority voted in favour of revoking the Certificate of Lawful Use (CLU) given to Mr England's family and this meant they will not be entitled to compensation for the chalet's 2010 demolition under the Pathfinder Scheme.

Mr England is furious about this development and said he is taking legal advice on whether to take the matter to a judicial review, which would likely be seen by many as a test case.

However, a spokesperson for the Waveney Pathfinder programme said it had already agreed with residents that compensation would not be given to people in temporary homes, including caravans and chalets and this means that Mr England has no right to a claim.

The legal battle is now expected to hit the courts, with neither side able to come to a settlement.

By Chris Stevenson