Budleigh flats plan opposed


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Plans to bulldoze a landmark building in the centre of Budleigh Salterton and replace it with flats have been opposed by town planners.

The proposal, for Abele Tree House at number nine Fore Street, would see it knocked down and rebuilt again in a very similar style, creating nine apartments.

The house, next to Temple Methodist Church, was formerly home to town stalwart Priscilla Hull.

Her son, David MacMullen, who is proposing the development, told members of Budleigh Salterton Town Council’s planning committee that the house was in a poor state and no longer suitable for family living.

However, councillors voted to oppose the redevelopment plan, which would also see the site’s Coach House used as a home.

Councillor Lynda Evans said: “I would be very sorry to see this house turned into flats. It’s a sort of break with the High Street and starts the tranquillity of Fore Street. To turn it into nine flats, plus the Coach House making ten units, that’s rather a lot of cars going in - and I just think ten units is far too many for that site.”

The mayor, Cllr Courtney Richards, said: “Two things that haven’t been mentioned are the AONB and conservation area – this house is in both.

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“Is there a need? We have our 100 houses and one or two more this town said it needed. Another nine properties I think is quite a lot for the town.”

Describing the existing building to councillors, Mr MacMullen had said: “It is the size of three modern detached houses. It is impractical as a family house and to adapt for modern living would be very expensive.

“Budleigh has an aging population. Many would like to live in the centre of town. This proposal gives that opportunity to nine families instead of one, and makes more efficient use of a rare central site while preserving its character.”

The application was supported by some councillors, with one, Cllr Tom Wright, saying: “The design of the house, as far as can be, reflects very much the style of the house that is there now.

“I do know we do want affordable homes, but you can also say a home of this size for just one family within Budleigh town centre is not a proper use of the land.

“I think the addition of nine homes in an area where there is pressure on housing is not altogether a bad thing.”

The application has also been opposed by the Environment Agency, but Mr MacMullen said new information would be submitted to alleviate its concerns.

The Otter Valley Association has also pointed out that Abele Tree House has been nominated in its Local Heritage Asset scheme as a landmark which needs protection, though this has not yet been validated.

East Devon District Council will decide on planning permission.