A shore investment

Offers in excess of £2m are currently being asked for Watch Hill, an eight- bedroom detached house for sale in Cricket Field Lane, Budleigh Salterton. Watch Hill is the work of the architect William Hatchard-Smith, who designed no fewer than fifty private residences in Budleigh Salterton between the two World Wars. Watch Hill is generally thought to be his finest house. It was commissioned in 1929 by Blake Thompson, an American millionaire, and was later to become the home of William Hatchard-Smith and his wife Margaret. Between the years of 1939 and the late 1970s, some 1500 overseas servicemen from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the USA, who had nowhere to go when on leave, were invited to stay at Watch Hill. After the war, the hospitality continued and was extended, in particular, to Rhodes scholars at British Universities. The house is beautifully situated in a south facing location with extensive views over the east Devon coastline towards Berry Head. The selling agent is Wilkinson Grant & Co, Exeter.

Following on from my post about the model rhyncosaur who's come to live at Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum I'm prompted to write something about the property market here, inspired by the news that our ancient coastline is attracting other residents of the human variety. http://budleighbrewsterunited.blogspot.com/2010/03/triassic-lizard-finds-new-home-in.html

I see that Budleigh was quoted by The Sunday Times of 28 March as one of 12 English "coastal turnaround towns" along with Torquay and Sidmouth, previously described as "faltering", which are currently "feeling the ripple effect of interest" in Dorset's Jurassic Coast.

One of Budleigh Salterton's most distinctive houses has just come on the market at £650K. Described by selling agents Bradleys as "a beautiful and sympathetic renovation of a historic property", the main house of Lyndale has three reception rooms, kitchen/ diner, separate utility room, cloakroom, four bedrooms, two bathrooms. It is linked to an adjoining cottage, which has two bedrooms, bathroom and a kitchen/ living room. The property has underfloor heating, gas central heating, gardens and parking.

Well, it could be that our town is attracting hordes of fossil fiends hoping to excavate a tyrannosaurus skeleton lying under the pebbles.

Or it could be on the up because Budleigh was listed in December last year as one of 10 English towns where the inhabitants have the longest life expectancy in the UK following a national study of three million pension records.

Or perhaps it's the highly successful Budleigh festivals - music, literary, jazz, rock and so on - which people are talking about.

Co-marketed with agents John D. Wood & Co this property in Moorlands Road, Budleigh Salterton, with a guide price of £825K was handled by Fulfords

Or perhaps it's just the property market picking up at last. Local estate agents Fulfords did send me a postcard recently boasting about the £800K+ home that they'd shifted for a client and asking if I'd like to join the happy crowd of property speculators whom they're helping.

Who knows? But something is happening just as surely as spring is at last stirring now with the bursting out of the primroses, the daffodils and the camellia blooms.

Bradleys' Budleigh office is selling what they describe as a well appointed ground floor apartment in Rosemullion Court on Cliff Road, enjoying some sea views situated within minutes of the town amenities and the sea front. The property would make a suitable main or holiday home with two double bedrooms, separate kitchen, bathroom and a bright sitting/dining room. Asking price is £229,950. There are communal gardens and allocated parking.

There is a theory that the post-World War Two baby boomers, on the point of retiring, have decided that putting down roots here on a Costa Geriatrica makes more sense than speculating on the Costa Mañana where you do seem to get caught out by nasty Spanish property laws insisting that the land where you bought your dream hacienda never belonged to you. Not to mention the prospect of droughts brought about by climate change which will mean that all you can grow in your Mediterranean garden are cactus, while we in Devon can bask among the bougainvilleas, the oleanders and the olive groves.

This two-bedroom semi detached house makes up the end part of a substantial period residence being marketed by agents David Rhys at £275K. While having its own private entrance and spacious patio garden, Park Lodge also has extensive communal grounds. The property itself has gas fired central heating, partial double glazing and a well fitted kitchen and bathroom. Located in a highly sought after area of Budleigh Salterton and within walking distance of the town centre , Park Lodge occupies a quiet and tranquil position. There are pleasant surrounding views and none better than those enjoyed by the balcony belonging to the property which extend over the town and down towards the sea.

Only one thing worries me a bit after reading that Sunday Times property feature, and that's the apparent growth in the number of properties being acquired as holiday lets rather than homes. Martin Lamb, a director of Savills Exeter branch was quoted as saying that they now have far more buyers looking for second homes worth £2m than for modestly priced homes to live in.

It could be that Budleigh might one day come to find itself with yet one more resemblance to our sister-community of Brewster on Cape Cod, where apparently the part-time residents now comprise half of the town's residential property owners.
They even have a highly organised group founded in 2002 to oppose successfully what they considered to be a discriminatory act that added additional property taxes for second home owners, and to support the needs of Brewster part-time residents.

It's clear that many second home owners contribute significantly to an area's economy even if they are absent from it from most of the year, and Brewster's Association of Part Time Residents is keen to quote examples of how its members play their part in the life of the resort. But I wonder how Budleigh's character would change if our town went down that route that our American sister has chosen.

Pictures and property details from


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