A couple have been forced to demolish their £2 million clifftop holiday home before it falls into the sea.
Richard Moore, 76, and his wife have been told by council officials that their home is unsafe to live in due to risks of it being swept away by coastal erosion.
The couple lost at least 50ft of their back garden in the last 20 months due to coastal erosion.
The Red House now is just 30ft from the edge of the 35ft high sandy cliff in North End Avenue, Thorpeness, Suffolk.
Work has begun on demolishing the home this week, after East Suffolk Council ruled that its precarious position was too dangerous.
Despite the spectacular views over the North Sea from the home with a worth of around £2 million, it will be demolished and is now worthless.
Red house is the first major property in the upmarket village of Thorpeness to be effectively lost to the sea since the East Coast floods of 1953. Local residents believe other homes in the village face the same fate soon.
The property was built in the 1920s and has been owned for at least 25 years by director Mr Moore and his wife who live in Ongar, Essex. The couple have not yet commented on the demolition.
One villager said: “They are going to be very upset that it has come to this. The Red House is a beautiful property and it is tragic that it is being knocked down.”
“They could have spent a fortune on making their own sea defences just as their neighbours have done – but you can’t hold back the forces of nature for ever.”
The beautiful house could once sleep 16 people and boasted a hot tub in the garden with sea views.
Lucy Ansbro, 53, lives next door to the Red House and is campaigning for better sea defences, said: “Coastal erosion has been a problem for a long time – but it has happened much faster here than anyone thought.”
“There were sea defences known as gabions, made from rocks in wire baskets at the base of the cliff in front of the Red House, but they got ripped out by bad weather in February last year.”
“Then they got ripped out in front of our house by another spell of bad weather over Easter a couple of months later. It left both the houses very exposed.”
Miss Ansbro and her partner Matthew Graham, had spent “hundreds of thousands of pounds” last October on bringing in more than 500 giant rocks weighing three tons each to protect the back of their home.
She added: “We got the work done under emergency powers as our property was in more imminent danger than the Red House at that point.”
“We paid for it because the council had no obligation to pay for it. There were discussions about the Red House joining in, but they did not have the funds available.”
“If I had not put those rocks down, we would not be living there now. Most of our house is nearer the sea than the Red House and the cliff would be down the middle of our garden.”
“We have lost about four or five metres from the corner of the garden since last February. While the rocks have stabilised things for now, I am sure the sea will start encroaching on the north side before too long.”
Miss Ansbro is a director of the Thorpeness Community Interest Company which is in discussions with Coastal Partnership East – to try and improve sea defences in the area.
She said: “We represent the whole village and we are trying to alert everyone to the problem. Once the Red House goes, other houses fronting the sea are in danger and then those behind are in peril.”
A spokeswoman for Coastal Partnership East, which manages the coastline in Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “In 2021, the area at most risk was to the cliffs in front of 22 North End Avenue.
“It was critical that this erosion did not increase here as it would have been detrimental to the community’s longer-term plans. In October 2021 urgent works in the form of granite rock were put in place.
“The Red House is not the first property to be demolished in Suffolk. Properties in Easton Bavents and most recently in Pakefield have also required demolition.”
The Norfolk and Suffolk coast are some of the fastest-eroding coasts in north-western Europe, The cliffs are soft and sandy making them very vulnerable to erosion by the sea.