Over a hundred properties in Runswick Bay could fall into the sea within the next three years if major flood and coastal defence works are not done.
That is the stark warning in a specialist report being put to the borough council, and now residents are fighting to save their village.
Deterioration of the seawall and erosion and exposure of the seawall and cliffs has got so bad that experts say the “village would need to be abandoned”.
Should the seawall fail, then most of the properties, including grade II listed buildings, in the lower village, some 96 residential homes and 17 shops and businesses would be lost along with paths and access roads.
It is predicted this would happen within the next three to ten years. In addition to that, properties off the main road and above the car park would also be lost over a prolonged period of time.
Upper parts of the village will not escape unscathed either, according to the council report. The sailing club boat park and access roads down the cliff will be affected within 20 years.
The present policy for making repairs to the seawall and defences at Runswick Bay is that it is done on an ad-hoc basis even though the area is not owned by the borough council. However. the authority has deemed it necessary to intervene as soon as possible.
The report says: “The actual rate of deterioration and time to significant failure is difficult to predict, however there is potential for the defences to unravel quite quickly leading to significant erosion and the initiation of landslides.”
Homeowners and locals are now fighting for the fishing beauty spot and have generated their own funds to put towards an emergency repair project which is currently being drawn up by the council.
They have formed the Runswick Bay Coastal Protection Trust which has raised its own money to be combined with over £1 million hastily scrambled from the Environment Agency and a £200,000 donation from Yorkshire Water.
Contracts and tenders are now being drawn up and work to build more rock armour defences which are expected to be two metres high and up to eight metres wide. It will span some 40 metres along the seawall and provide protection for the next 100 years.
Work is set to start in October this year and be completed by May next year.
The report adds: “The preferred option would reduce the risk of seawall failure in the short, medium and long term. The risks to residential and commercial properties and other infrastructure would be significantly reduced. This would alleviate much of the stress and anxiety felt by residents and property owners.”