A SICK 92-year-old woman faces having her clifftop home demolished - and being forced to pay up to £30,000 for the privilege.

Wealden District Council says the house at Crangon Cottages, Birling Gap, is unsafe and could collapse at any moment.

It is applying to magistrates for permission to knock it down.

And a spokesman confirmed that if successful, it would then make owner Lizzie Lazareno pay.

He said: "We have to go through with demolition as the building is dangerous.

"We will then recover the cost from the owner as it is her responsibility if the house is unsafe."

Lizzie, who is in poor health, has been staying with her son in Hertfordshire for several months.

Planning consultant Alan Edgar, who is to lead a challenge in the courts against demolition, recently carried out a survey of her home.

Mr Edgar, a member of the Birling Gap Cliff Preservation Society, said: "She is quite infirm and the last thing she needs is for her house to be knocked down and then be asked to pay for the privilege.

"We will most certainly be contesting this. I don't think they have any right to do it."

The society is calling on council planners to approve a cliff protection scheme.

Last month Wealden Council rejected a £300,000 scheme.

But the society is to try again, and this month submitted a new application for a smaller £40,000 scheme.

Society member Jean Fawbert lives just two doors away from Lizzie and also lives under the constant fear of demolition.

She said: "The scheme we are proposing is to protect the base of the cliff from erosion with large rocks to show the council that it works and that a bigger scheme is necessary.

"These houses shouldn't be allowed to just be demolished or fall into the sea."

And she added that if demolition does go ahead the council should at least pay a contribution to the cost.

There are now just six cottages in the tiny terrace at Birling Gap.

Fifteen years ago the pilot's cottage at the end of the terrace crumbled into the sea and in 1995 the next cottage along was demolished.

The surrounding land is owned by the National Trust, which rejected the society's bid for a cliff protection scheme last November.

Residents were told that sea defences were not favoured by the Trust as they were often unsustainable.

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