SINKING FEELING - Couple "devastated" as their £850k thatched cottage on the Norfolk Broads is sinking

Ken and his wife Gail Pitts have lived at the three-bed property for the last 17 years

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A couple have been 'left devastated' after waking up to find their stunning £850,000 riverside cottage on the Norfolk Broads sinking.

Ken Pitts and wife Gail discovered to their horror that their idyllic thatched home on the River Bure at Horning in Norfolk had developed a severe lift around three months ago.

Neighbours have claimed the 1970s-built cottage started sinking shortly after it was re-thatched because wooden pile foundations had broken under the weight.

The couple have now been forced to move out of their home of 17 years while they wait to find out whether it will have to be demolished.

Signs have been erected around the property with the words 'Danger; Unsafe."

Today Ken said there had been no warning signs that the west side of their home starting to sink and that it simply happened "overnight", leaving them "devastated".

He and his wife declined to speak further and said they are working with their insurers to try and find a resolution.

The site of their reed-thatched home leaning significantly to one side has caused a stir among locals and passers-by.

Some locals took to Facebook to express their concern for the couple.

Local Maggie Tuck said: "I heard one end was steel piles the other was old wooden piles . It's the wood piles that have collapsed.

"They are going to take off the thatch to save it and then demolish . Very sad."

Sally Blackburn added wrote: "We passed this last week and I actually couldn't bear to look at it, too upsetting!"

Viv Garner added: "I used to dream of living there when I was a child. So sad to see this."

The three-bedroom house offers a large garden with a river frontage, along with allocated boat mooring and fishing opportunities.

It also includes a master with king-sized bed and balcony, a well-equipped kitchen and a light and airy sitting room leading out onto a large riverside sundeck.

Over the last five years 25 properties have been sold on the road in the village which has shops, pubs and restaurants.

A Broads Authority spokesperson said: "It is a huge shame that this lovely cottage appears to be in such a precarious position.

"Unfortunately it is something that can be an ongoing danger for properties built on unstable ground.

"We wish the owners all the best as they assess what can be done.

"If the cottage is within our area as a planning authority we would offer free pre-planning advice should this be needed in the future."

The owners of the house were contacted for comment but did not wish to speak.

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Building surveyor at North & Hawkins Building Consultancy, Tom North, 40, said: "Looking at it, the chances are there is something going on underground.

"Obviously the area is extremely wet and most of those properties, and certainly the old ones, will have timber pile foundations which will be driven down to the ground.

"One possibility is the house may have timber pile foundations and the timber piles may have broken because the ground below has shifted or has decayed and deteriorated. Because the timber piles have broken it may be imposed by the mass and isn't able to support it anymore.

"It is similar to a rock on top of a wet sponge.

"You can put new foundations in. The questions is whether you try and stabilise it. Sometimes you don't want to risk the damage it may cause."

Video by: Ashley Moran