RESIDENTS could have to pay up to £50,000 to stop their Pagham Beach homes being washed away.
The funding will be needed if the works being proposed to create better defences in front of West Front Road reach the highest of their estimated cost.
This could be £650,000 for a rock revetment in front of the 15 most exposed properties at the western end of West Front Road.
New government funding rules mean residents have to pay some of the cost of coastal protection works. The current proposals were explained to Pagham Beach Residents’ Association at its annual meeting last Friday.
Residents Derek Haverley said: “I don’t like what I have heard tonight. They are gambling with theories.
“There are no facts. They only think they possibly know the solutions and nobody listens to us.”
The need for the protection applied to the rest of Pagham, not just the beach estate, he said.
“I don’t know if the village realises the implications for themselves. We are talking about protecting all the properties in the village. The village is lower than the beach.”
West Front Road resident Ron Harris-Shaw said: “A sizeable amount of money has to be raised from this group of people.
“I am in one of the 15 houses which is likely to be washed away unless that revetment goes in. That revetment will help everybody.
“The 15 properties at the moment are expected to stump up that expensive cost. We are contributing towards work which will benefit the rest of you.
“If that revetment needs to move further down the beach to stop further erosion, it is going to cost more. Of those 15 properties, I know two or three have made contributions of £4,000-5,000. If everybody did that, we will be able to keep our houses, which is the most important thing.
“Allen Miller is desperately trying to raise money for his flood defence trust fund. Please help him.”
Storms and erosion have scoured the beach width down to just 17.6m.
Some 60 people attended last Friday’s meeting at Pagham village hall. They cross-examined Arun District Council’s coastal engineer, Roger Spencer, with questions about the revetment proposal.
He said it should be installed this September next to an existing beach groyne at the western end of West Front Road and stretch for some 120m along the beach.
It would be 5m high and stand on the foreshore’s eroded section. Some 10,000 tons of rocks, each weighing four to eight tons, would create it.
“This is the minimum we can get away with,” he said. “If the cost is £600,000, the cost to the community is zero. If it is £650,000, it’s that extra the community has to find.
“That could be a fish and chip shop giving 10p for every bag of chips they sell. There’s a long list of ideas from the government.”
The Environment Agency will pay £400,000 for the work, Arun will put in £100,000 and the county council has also pledged a ‘substantial sum’.