Last week I came across some documents obtained from the borough council ten years ago in response to a Freedom of Information request.
They date back to 2002, but have no connection with the Pier saga. In fact, while the town council was doing its best to ignore the overwhelming strength of public opinion against the proposal for a ‘non-pier’, it was acting more responsibly when it came to a request from an architect wanting to acquire another seaside landmark. Sarah Riviere was seeking support for her bid to acquire the former coastguard lookout next to the lighthouse and turn it into a centre for studying the effect of climate change on this part of the coast.
On July 4 2002, Town Clerk Roger Hoverd wrote to her as follows: “Hunstanton Town Council has considered your proposal to use the former Coastguard Lookout as a Centre for Awareness of Climate Change. It has been concluded that this would be an excellent use for the building and benefit Hunstanton as an attraction for visitors. Whilst not being able to offer financial support, the Council is otherwise fully supportive of the project and wishes you every success.” Unfortunately, in 1974 ownership of this building had passed to the borough council under local government reorganisation, along with all the land previously owned by Hunstanton Urban District Council. It was, therefore, no great surprise when the borough council opted to sell the Lookout for use as a holiday home. However, it was disappointing to see an excellent plan for the use of this redundant building rejected in favour of yet another second home. Sarah had been born and raised in Norfolk; trained as an architect in London, where she later worked before gaining further experience in New York and Munich. In 2002 she was teaching architectural and urban design at the Technical University in Berlin. Had things turned out differently, Sarah might now be contributing to the debate on the best way to deal with coastal erosion on this stretch of the coast. I wonder what she would have thought of the proposal to continue with the current recharge policy, even though central government will no longer be paying the bill!
When I saw a train being used to transport sand from Middleton to King’s Lynn, it occurred to me that if silica sand is present in commercially viable quantities beneath land west of the A149 in the Ingoldisthorpe area, it could assist in solving the problem of flood protection. The local highway authority would have to get its act together and recommend refusal for any scheme involving transport of sand by road. The railway line between Hunstanton and Lynn would then have to be reinstated in order to transport the sand, together with passengers, so they would no longer be faced with a bus service that cannot be relied upon to connect with trains, especially at peak times and at weekends. If a reinstated railway could be constructed on, or east of a sea defence embankment, farmland and holiday parks would also be protected from tidal flooding, provided all permanent buildings were confined to the landward side of the embankment. This idea will probably get the customary negative response from the powers that be, but it is surely worth considering?