Concern over holiday home flooding

PUBLISHED: 01:21 15 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:50 03 March 2010

THE risk of flooding along a stretch of the Suffolk coastline has become so severe that a council wants to ban people from sleeping in an ancient military look-out post.

THE risk of flooding along a stretch of the Suffolk coastline has become so severe that a council wants to ban people from sleeping in an ancient military look-out post.

Suffolk Coastal District Council has stressed that it believes it is too risky for anyone to stay overnight when the wartime watch tower is converted at East Lane, Bawdsey, near Woodbridge.

Councillors are so worried about the threat to personal safety that some of them said it was unsuitable for the tower to be converted into a holiday home.

The Environment Agency is also concerned about the dangers from flooding and it told the council that no one should be allowed to stay at the military attraction during the winter because they could be killed in a storm. The Agency only wants the building to be used for seven months a year.

The building is at the edge of a tidal floodplain and the risk from flooding is once every 200 years, but the development control sub-committee heard that flooding is becoming more regular at Bawdsey.

District councillor Christine Block said: ''Everybody in Bawdsey is aware of the impact of winter storms and we have had emergency repair work done at East Lane. There are very dangerous storm conditions in winter.''

Councillors said it was inappropriate for the former observation tower to be turned into a one-bedroom holiday let. It forms part of a small group of historic structures including a battery, a World War I pillbox and Martello Towers.

They are situated in a desolate part of the coast and councillors warned that light pollution from a converted building would be too prominent.

Mrs Block said: ''People oppose the conversion to living space and they are very clear that this building has an intrinsic value within the historic landscape of East Lane. There is a real fear that use will destroy the quietness and emptiness, particularly at night.''

Councillor George Franks said: ''This is a very bad opportunist development in an extremely sensitive place which does not lend itself to tourist accommodation and light pollution.''

But a decision on the planning application by Mann Farms to convert the building has been deferred because the issues have become more complex. The district council successfully applied to have the building listed recently and now the council has an obligation to look after the building with the owner.

Bob Chamberlain, assistant director of planning and leisure, said this meant that they had to find a future use that would generate an income to restore the building.

'That is not necessarily a tourist use but it is difficult to generate an income apart from that," he said.

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