CLIFFTOP residents have launched a plan to save their cottages from crumbling into the sea.

Coastguard cottages have stood on Cuckmere Haven’s cliffs near the Seven Sisters for generations.

But the Environment Agency says it cannot afford to maintain flood defences protecting the cliffs from erosion.

For years residents have been mixing concrete and repairing the sea walls themselves to shield their homes.

Now the Cuckmere Haven Save Our Shores group has submitted an application to repair the concrete and timber walls, protecting the cottages for generations to come.

The South Downs National Park Authority will decide later this year whether to grant the application.

Kitty Ann, who owns historic Cable Hut 14 in Cuckmere Haven, said Sussex would regret not saving the cottages if the park authority rejects the plans.

“You couldn’t picture the view without the cottages,” said the 83-year-old, who owns the hut with husband Michael, 74.

“They fit into the whole scene with the Seven Sisters in the background. People all over the world know that view.

“I don’t want that to be something where in a 20 or 30 years, we look back and wonder ‘why did we let that go?’.

“It’s such an important view.

“The defences have been here since 1947 and pretty much ever since then the people living here have mended it themselves.

“We’ve been working on this for six years already and spent about £30,000 so far on reports for the application.

“Three of the cottages are owned by descendants of the Coastguard which lived in them three generations ago.”

The cottages have featured in dozens of films and TV series, including the upcoming Blithe Spirit movie starring Dame Judi Dench.

Cuckmere Haven Save Our Shores says it could start repair work on the defences as early as September if the park authority agrees to the plans.

An independent report on the defences submitted by the group in the application says the sea walls “are in a poor condition”.

“The steel sheet piled wall at the eastern end of the defences is significantly corroded,” wrote engineering firm RoyalHaskoningDHV in the review.

“The concrete sea walls towards the west end are at risk of gradual undermining.”