Find out about the north Norfolk coast which runs approximately 68km stretching from Holkham in the west to Horsey in the south-east.

The central 34km of the coastal frontage, from Kelling Hard through to Cart Gap, Happisburgh, is characterised by soft glacial cliffs and sandy beaches.

This is in stark contrast to the low lying areas found on either flank. In the west there are saltmarshes and the famous shingle ridge leading to Blakeney Point spit, while to the east the beaches and sand-dunes are all that separates the North Sea from the Norfolk Broads.

Coast Management short films

The following short films have been produced to give an introduction to our coastline and the work going into protection and adaptation in the area.

Introduction to Coastal Management in north Norfolk

Coastal adaptation: a north Norfolk case study

Coastal Management documents

The following documents include introductions to the whole coastal environment in north Norfolk, as well as introductions to the coastal protection and defence of the area.

Case Studies

Coastal erosion

Along the north Norfolk coastline the cliffs are susceptible to coastal erosion. The prevention of coastal erosion is termed coast protection and is provided by Maritime District Councils such as North Norfolk District Council (NNDC).

The council is responsible for both constructing and maintaining the defences on its frontage, as set out in the Shoreline Management Plans. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) also provide some funding for coast protection works.

north Norfolk cliffs

The north Norfolk cliffs

These are basically comprised of a contorted mix of silts, sands, clays and gravels that were deposited during the glacial and interglacial phases of the last 2 million years.
The cliffs provide little resistance to the aggressive action of North Sea waves, which erode the base of the cliffs.

In addition, when the cliff material has a high water content it becomes unstable and, together with wave action, this results in slips & slides of large amounts of material along the coastline, leading to a general retreat of the cliff line.

Find more about coastal erosion management in your area.

Coastal flooding

The Environment Agency manages flood defences to reduce the risk of coastal flooding and implements flood warning systems when there is a heightened possibility of flooding.

For further information on flood defences and flooding issues please visit Environment Agency flood information page and our own emergency planning flood information page.

Coastal information - intermediate level

Find out what policies have been developed for a particular area of coast, and how they have been executed through specific coast protection schemes.

Coastal information - advanced level

Large scale studies into coastal defence policies and projects, including sediment transport studies, investigations into management of coastal defences and sustainability of ‘hold the line / do nothing’ policies.

Cromer to Winterton Ness Coastal Management Study 2013

The Cromer to Winterton Study is a key action from the Kelling to Lowestoft Shoreline Management Plan (SMP6) which sets out the coastal management policies for that stretch of coast. This technical study improves our understanding of how the coast may change, assists in identifying future coast protection schemes and improves our understanding of the level of resources required to manage our coast for the future.


The Bacton, Walcott and Ostend Report 2014

The Bacton, Walcott and Ostend report was completed following the Cromer to Winterton Ness Coastal Management Strategy Study. NNDC appointed Mott MacDonald to undertake a further more detailed investigation into the economic case for coastal protection scheme(s) specifically at Bacton, Walcott and Ostend.

Kelling to Cromer Coastal Defence Strategy Study 2006

The Kelling to Cromer Coastal Defence Strategy Study provides a framework for the sustainable management of the coastal defences of this section of coastal frontage.

Overstrand to Walcott Strategy Study 2002 to 2005

Investigates the sustainability of a selective 'Hold the Line' / 'Do Nothing' management policy, for this section of coastal frontage.

Sediment Transport Report and supporting data.


Coastal forums

Coastal planning

At the Council, we can help reduce the risks of coastal change by managing the types of planning development allowed in coastal risk areas, particularly when considering climate change.

What areas are at risk of coastal change?

The coastal risk areas are known collectively in the government's current National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as the Coastal Change Management Area (CCMA). This area identifies where change will likely be significant over the next 100 years.

You can use our proposals map to find out whether land or property falls within the CCMA and if the Local Plan coastal policies will apply when considering planning applications. The map shows Local Plan policies on an ordnance survey map and identifies the CCMA (known as the Coastal Erosion Constraint Area in our current Local Plan).

How are planning decisions affected in these areas?

From a planning perspective, we apply significant weight to the coastal planning policies for decision-making within our current Local Plan. You can view the relevant planning policies in the Core Strategy:

  • Policy EN 11 Coastal Erosion
  • Policy EN 12 Relocation and Replacement of Development Affected by Coastal Erosion Risk

New Local Plan

We are currently preparing a new and updated Local Plan and Policies Map. Within this, the new coastal planning policies listed below will provide more detail on the types of development that may be acceptable within the CCMA. It will also give a consistent and flexible approach to the potential relocation of homes and businesses.

  • Draft Policy CC 5 Coastal Change Management
  • Draft Policy CC 6 Coastal Change Adaptation

View our document library for more information.

Coastal Adaptation Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

The Coastal Adaptation SPD offers guidance on interpreting planning policies for coastal areas. It covers the coast across several local authority areas, from Holkham in Norfolk to Felixstowe in Suffolk.

The objective of the SPD is to ensure that those carrying out development understand the requirements of local planning authorities and that communities can continue to prosper and adapt to coastal change. The document also includes guidance on the expected content of a Coastal Erosion Vulnerability Assessment (CEVA) for when this is needed to support a planning application.