Monday, 28 September 2009

Another rape in Budleigh Salterton?

Below: The Rolle Flats on Budleigh’s sea front are now one of the town’s major landmarks, thanks to planners who gave the go-ahead to the demolition of Budleigh’s best known hotel.

The headline may seem sensationalist, and this story may appear nimbyist. But ever since arriving in Budleigh Salterton I’ve been struck by the number of fine old buildings in the town that have been destroyed, to be replaced by architectural eyesores. Budleigh is a lovely town, beautifully situated, with an interesting historic heritage. That has not helped to save it from the greed of developers and the stupidity of planners.

The full story of this desecration is told in a series of 20 or so files kept on a shelf in the town’s excellent Fairlynch Museum. The title of one of the files, 'The Rape of Budleigh Salterton', seemed to me to be highly appropriate.

Right: Clyst Hayes House on Exmouth Road,
Budleigh Salterton. Planners have given the go-ahead to its demolition.

So when I received a letter from East Devon District Council (EDDC) inviting me to comment on the impending demolition of Clyst Hayes House, it seemed only natural to make the following response.

27 September 2009

Dear Sir/Madam

Your ref: 09/1857/RES Letter dated 17 September 2009
Clyst Hayes House 4 Exmouth Road Budleigh Salterton Devon EX9 6AF

We have already registered our objections to the proposed demolition of the above property in letters to EDDC Planning Service dated 26 March 2008 and 10 October 2008.

Along with many other Budleigh Salterton residents, including the Town Council, we feel that the demolition of Clyst Hayes House would constitute a flagrant disregard for, as our Councillors have already stated, “guidance laid out in the Budleigh Salterton Design Statement.”

The Budleigh Salterton Town Design Statement (TDS) notes in at least three of its sections that the greatest threat to the open rural character of the town is from infill or “backland” development, where large gardens are particularly vulnerable to opportunistic development (4.5.3), quoting examples of large detached houses saved from demolition or “successfully converted to multiple occupancy” (5.6.2), and suggesting that “greater attention should be paid to the sub-division of large houses of distinctive character rather than the soft option of demolition and redevelopment of the site.” (5.9)

Clyst Hayes House is described in the Site Description by EDDC, available on the internet at
as “a large slate and render, Edwardian house of attractive proportions.” This description would clearly indicate on the basis of the TDS guidelines that the property should have been considered as a strong candidate for being preserved and restored.

On your website at East Devon District Council states that “The Town Design Statement was adopted as interim Supplementary Planning Guidance to the emerging East Devon Local Plan on 13th October 2004. It's [sic] guidelines add detail to, and complement, the Local Plan policies and will be used in the determination of planning applications and to guide householders undertaking works not requiring planning permission.”

By approving this demolition, East Devon District Council is making a mockery of its publicly stated policy with regard to such buildings, and demonstrates a lack of integrity which we find hard to understand.

Yours sincerely

Michael and Anthea Downes

Above: Clyst Hayes House garden: a tempting prospect for developers who would like to see it filled with houses.

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