THE owners of clifftop cottages have said they need £1 million to save their homes.

Lucy Mutter, who owns a cottage on Cuckmere Haven, said money is needed to ensure they are protected from the sea after the Environment Agency said it could no longer fund sea defences for the homes.

The Coastguard Cottages and Cable Hut have featured in films including Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire and Second World War drama Atonement.

Now the Cuckmere Haven Save Our Shores group has said it needs donations to keep their homes safe from storms. Ms Mutter said her great-grandfather John Ayres was the last coastguard to live in the cottages.

“The cottages were originally opened in the 1820s to stop smugglers, but by the time they were closed in the 1920s my great-grandfather lived there,” the 41-year-old said.

“Another great-grandfather of mine, Mr Smelt, bought them when they went on sale.

“We never went abroad in the summer, we always went down to Cuckmere. I try and spend as much time there as possible, the views are beautiful.”

The cottages have only one full-time resident. Ms Mutter, who lives in Portslade, said it can become a “hard existence” in winter.

“When it gets really cold it becomes impossible to live there, the pipes freeze up,” she said.

“We have to close them down.”

Money is needed to repair an old sea wall, which was critically damaged in 2014 after storms.

But despite the daunting £1 million figure, Ms Mutter said the cottages needed to be saved as they were part of Britain’s national heritage.

“We’re just a small group which has been protecting the cottages for 75 years,” she said.

“Up until now we have put our own money up.

“We want to do everything in one go and that could be anything between £750,000 and £1 million."

Ms Mutter said an application to the South Downs National Park Authority would cost £40,000.

But a spokesman for the authority said the base cost was £2,000, not including any reports the applicant must pay for.

The cottage owner, who works at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, has started an online donation page to raise money for the cottages.

She also hoped businesses would donate materials for the wall’s repairs.

“These cottages are a very famous landmark locally, nationally, and internationally,” she said. “We’re just a tiny group of residents who want to keep them well.”

Tim Slaney, director of planning at the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “Planning applications such as this are complex given the location of the proposed development and the sensitive issues which have been raised regarding natural coastal erosion, large man-made defences and people’s homes so close to the cliff edge.

“What is of key importance is that whatever decision the authority takes on any future planning application it is a fully informed decision which takes into account all the available evidence, the considerations of the local community and expert viewpoints.”

To donate to Ms Mutter’s appeal, visit