Application for former hotel site refused

Posted on: 18 October 2016

A controversial application for a former hotel site near Ilfracombe has been refused by North Devon Council.

The decision on the application to demolish the former Lee Bay Hotel and for the development of 20 new homes, open space, cafe and toilet block with parking was made at the council’s planning committee meeting on Wednesday (12 October).

Members voted against the officer recommendation for approval because the benefits of redeveloping the site did not outweigh the impact of the proposed new development on the character of the area and landscape.

Chairman of North Devon Council Planning Committee, Councillor Eric Ley, said: “The general consensus is that something badly needs to be done at this site. However, the question remains, what? Nothing will happen here unless it is viable, and that has already been proven, as a previous tourism-based scheme for the site was approved in 2010 and has failed to materialise. Since our site visit in 2010 the building and grounds have deteriorated alarmingly.

“As parish representatives, Ilfracombe Town Council put forward a strong case for why the application should be approved, mainly because they don’t see any other option for the site. Lee Bay residents also put forward their case why they don’t want a housing scheme, which is around the fear of the properties becoming second homes and the lack of affordable housing. They also presented a petition with 500 signatories against the scheme, who came from various locations.

“Unfortunately, affordable housing was not included in this scheme for two reasons – firstly, the government’s recent statement to introduce a Vacant Building Credit, which means redundant buildings brought back in to viable use are exempt. Secondly, an independent viability assessment was made and the cost to demolish and remove the thousands of tonnes of waste from the site would not have made it viable to include affordable housing.

“Officers were recommending approval based on the overall benefits. However, the conservation officer and the AONB were both unhappy with the scheme.

“After a very lively debate, it was a split decision, which ultimately fell in favour of refusal.”

Local ward member for Ilfracombe West, Councillor Geoff Fowler, said; “Although I was in favour of the application, I was very impressed by the counter arguments put forward by the Lee and Lyncombe Residents Association with the results going in their favour. We will now try and work together to come up with a alternative solution which will improve that important part of Lee Bay.”

Local ward member for Ilfracombe West, Councillor Ian Meadlarkin, said: “I was in support of the application, it is a great shame it has been turned down as I feel Lee Bay needs some sort of redeveloping with a commercial aspect to it. However, throughout the hearing the planning committee gave the application full consideration, great thought and deliberation. I am disappointed with the outcome, however I’m pleased it had such a good hearing and I support the decision the committee have made.”

Full details of the application (59766) can be viewed on the council website, as well as all other applications for the district.

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Posted in: Planning