We want to build a massive 25ft tunnel under our cliffside home so we can get a better view – our neighbours are furious | The Sun

A COUPLE who want to build a massive 25ft tunnel under their cliffside home to get better views have come up against furious neighbours.

Richard and Karen Dance want to extend an existing tunnel, which leads to a viewing platform with panoramic views, so it runs from their holiday home's basement.

But the pair have been criticised by other Isle of Wight residents, who say they're treating the village "like a playground".

The neighbours are also concerned the work could damage the cliff and impact property prices.

The Dances, who are in their 50s, have applied for planning permission to extend the "unique" tunnel from their detached home, and under their front garden.

The couple, who run a string of convenience stores and live in Brockenhurst in Hampshire’s New Forest, bought their Isle of Wight holiday home for £470,000 in 2013.

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It is now estimated to be worth £650,000.

The application says "the proposal is essentially a domestic extension" aiming to "complete the walk through as it was originally intended in the 1920s".

The entrance to the old tunnel is 30ft from the property and is "not visible from any public vantage point".

The plans say: "One has to know it’s there to be able to see it".

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The proposed tunnel will result in "an unusual feature for occupiers of the house" and there "would be no physical impact above ground apart from the skylight used to provide natural illumination of the tunnel".

But, the plans have divided opinion in the small seaside village.

Isle of Wight Council, which will decide if the tunnel can be built, received six comments objecting to it and six supporting it, its website showed.


One of the neighbours who objected, Irmgard Keen, said: "Such a project is used as a playground by people who don’t live here permanently and [could cause] damage to the community living here.

"They would do better to spend that money towards supporting the cliff.  It's a community thing that affects us all and nature is the most important thing.

"Some people do not know what to do with their money."

The 66-year-old and husband Chris, 65, are trying to sell their home and fear the tunnel could devalue nearby properties.

Chris added: "It just seems like an extravagance. It's not the sort of thing you would use every day.

"The last thing we want is for the cliff path to be made impassable. It all seems like a bit of a gamble for an unnecessary reason."


Objecting on the council website, resident Michael Taplin said the plan would "disturb an unstable cliff by tunnelling under a section of highway where cars have been banned for safety reasons".

He added: “This is a holiday home and there is no reason for the proposed tunnel.”

Island resident Andrew Hayes added: “The cliff path in that area has previously shown to have a friable geology so to go ahead with this application which only has a small benefit to the owners of the holiday home would be extremely dangerous.”

Lake Parish Council says the tunnel could affect the stability of the cliffs and has recommended the application be refused.

Paul Brading, county councillor for Lake South and chair of the parish council, says local residents agree the work could be "dangerous" due to the instability of the cliff.

He said: “I have had several residents contact me expressing concern and I have really grave concerns about any work at all being done.

“There was a cliff fall in 2010, the last time someone tried to do work there. I just feel it’s very risky to do any work due to the cliff being very fragile.”


Tig Outlaw, a fellow county and parish councillor, was also "concerned" about the application, and said residents had contacted him with similar fears.

He explained that although "the integrity of the tunnel is sound", his "real concern is the integrity of the cliff face".

Tig continued: "I am absolutely against the application that would only be for one resident’s benefit.”

Shanklin resident Hilary Corr added: "The cliff is fragile, the tunnel is not required.

"Any actions that might destabilise the fragile cliff path are to be avoided at all costs.

"Please do not allow this potentially damaging scheme."


But, others were in support of the plans.

Resident Sam Connelly, 47, director of an engineering company, said he was "strongly pro" the application.

He said: “I think this is wonderful, the house was always designed to have the home joined to the tunnel in 1911 when it was originally built.

"The cliff has not changed in a hundred years. We have glass negatives as evidence to support this, there is no difference between then and now.

"My personal opinion is that [the negative comments are] speculation and amateur opinion with no backing.

"If you look at the facts, the cliff face is absolutely sound – two independent structural geological reports have been undertaken on the cliff.

"We should be promoting people doing something good for the island and people upgrading their personal assets.


"The home is used as a quality rental where the type of people coming will eat out in the local restaurants and spend money in our shops. It is going to help revitalise tourism.

"It will help stabilise the cliff. These works will protect and lengthen the lifespan of our wonderful cliff path".

And the Dances’ structural engineering consultants, Such Salinger Peters, argue that the tunnel would improve the stability of the cliff as it is built with steel-reinforced poured concrete, brickwork and waterproof membranes.

Geoff Long, a geologist who lives a few doors down, said: "Why shouldn't someone want to do something nice on their property?

"Should we all have sterile lawns in front of our houses or can we actually add a bit of unique character to our properties?

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"Can we not be a bit more neighbourly about this?"

Mr Dance declined to comment.

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