Behind tourist trap Seaton is a sad reality..

….locals are struggling to afford to stay in this seaside gem as house prices are soaring.

It’s late March and the picturesque seaside town of Seaton is already filling up with visitors as locals businesses begin to prepare for a busy summer. Daytrippers, retired couples and local workers make up for most of the people who I came across on my trip to this sunny spot.

Chloe Parkman www.devonlive.com 

As a first time visitor to this seaside holiday destination, I was anticipating to find a lot fish and chips shops, ice-cream parlours and tourist stores, and for the most part that was true. However, when walking along the seafront I noticed that there were a couple of empty business units, which were yet open for trade in this prime location.

After speaking with Kinmarie Skinner-Parkes, owner of Beanos, I soon found out that one of the businesses had closed after 54 years of trade, and was due to reopen with a new captain at the helm. Kinmare also told me that, despite all of the positives to this beautiful town, there was a sad reality beneath the surface; locals are struggling to afford to stay in this seaside gem as house prices are soaring.

According to Right Move, properties in Seaton had an overall average price of £299,713 over the last year. The majority of sales in Seaton during the last year were detached properties, selling for an average price of £405,815. Flats sold for an average of £167,903, with semi-detached properties fetching £266,977.

Overall, sold prices in Seaton over the last year were 3% down on the previous year and 8% up on the 2019 peak of £278,174.

A house price increase seems to be common theme across many Devon seaside resorts. And so, I decided to speak with Seaton locals to find out what it is really like to call this town home.

Kinmarie Skinner-Parkes, owner of Beanos

Kinmarie: “I moved to Seaton in 2009, I’m from Beer. I love it here and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I think the only thing is that the house prices have gone up so much that the younger families have had to move out of the area.

“It’s definitely linked to second home owners, in my opinion. There are some real prime locations, like there was a penthouse up for sale for nearly £1million.

“I don’t think any of the locals will be able to afford to buy these houses. Young families won’t be able to afford it so they will need to move out of the town.

“I know quite a few who have had to leave due to the prices. It’s these sort of places where people want to come and retire.

“My family member lives in Plymouth, and they are desperate to come back, but the rental prices are between £650 and £900 per month. You need a good job.

“There used to be a problem with drugs here, but that is phasing out now. I think those people know they are being watched and probably do it in their homes now.

“It’s not a place where you walk around and feel unsafe, not at all. This winter it’s been quite good, really business wise. We have stayed open as much as we can, we are governed by the weather here as we have no indoor area. But we were open and busy in January as it was sunny. Lots of people were coming out and about having a walk.

“One of the businesses next door to us has just gone and it was open for around 54-years. I think the new people are going to reopen it and keep it as it is. But I don’t think the town is lacking businesses as such, there are lots in the town. There are hardly any empty shops really.”

Hospiscare volunteer, Patricia

Patricia said: “I am a resident and I have been here for six years. I love living in Seaton and wouldn’t want to move anywhere else. It does get busy in the summer when people come down, we have all the beach huts here and the fun run on Saturday’s.

“I have worked here since I moved here and there are always people here keeping us going. There are lots of things going on here, I mean we have the tramway.

“Seaton is not a wealthy area, Sidmouth is more wealthy. You have young people and retired people here. We had a young lady here who was homeless, so homeless people are here.

“We have a foodbank here too who help those in need. I don’t think locals can afford to stay here really. There is a house around the corner from me which sold within a day of hitting the market – over the asking price.

“People want to move down here. With the pandemic, they are able to work from home. So I think a lot of people can move here. Renting is horrendous.

“My family members live in Berkshire and they are in council properties as the prices are going up and up and up.

“I don’t think there are that many second homes, but obviously people come down for holidays.”

Elderly couple who have lived in Seaton for 25-years say ‘the infrastructure is not good because the shops are not that full’

An elderly couple, who have lived in the town for 25-years and have been married for over 60-years, say the town is lacking things.

The couple, who wish to remain anonymous said: “The town is lacking things. But all of the towns are in the same boat, Sidmouth is exactly the same, they are all heading that way. And of course, the infrastructure is not all that good because the shops are not that full.

“Everything is getting dearer. The only thing we have in Seaton is the tramway which brings people in. Oh, and the supermarket. The supermarket here is the largest around and because of that people come to it.

“We’ve been together 64 years. We were kids together where we lived together before.

“A lot of houses have been built around the supermarket here which has brought the population up but it hasn’t done much for the infrastructure.

“This is certainly not a rich area, all we know from our point of view is the rates of housing are very high. They say that it’s because the town has got a lot of churches. That usually sets the price of these things.

“This is an expensive area we feel. I wouldn’t say the people here are well off though.

“We have lost a lot of shops here in the town, there are things you can’t get. We had Boots here but that’s gone. It’s been a downward trade here.

“There isn’t a lot of crime in the area, but you do get drugs and things here. From a crime point of you it does happen but not really. We lived in London so we have always been aware, always locking our doors and all that. But we love it here.”

Linda Doughty owner of Coastal Crafts Collective

Linda said: “We have had the business for five years and I know the town reasonably well. I think Seaton is lovely, it’s really friendly. I think it’s an amazing coastline and there is an awful lot to do here.

“It gets busy in the summer but it doesn’t get ridiculously busy. I think a lot of people come here as it is nicely busy as opposed to being ridiculously busy.

“My understanding is that actually the proportion of second homes here is a lot less, for example in the Lyme Regis or Sidmouth area.

“One of the reasons is that this is a popular retirement area, I think that’s because it’s flatter than perhaps Sidmouth. And although prices have gone up, it is much more reasonable than Sidmouth or Lyme Regis.

“I would say that although it is a retirement community there are a lot of young people here. It’s a real mixed community which is really nice.

“I am not aware of much crime in the area and I feel safe here. I am certainly not concerned about walking around in the dark or by myself.

“I think the town is back on the up business. I invested in the town five years ago because I absolutely believe the town is on the up. The thing I love about Seaton is that there are a lot of independent and small businesses, rather than a load of chains. It’s a very creative and artistic area.

“I think that gives it a lot more soul and community.”

Visitor – Mrs K Jones

Mrs K. Jones said: “We live in Worcester but we love it down here. We looked to buy a property down here five or six years ago.

“But, it was very difficult because we were living on the east coast and we are of an age where things are difficult to buy a property.

“The prices around here have gone up, the house prices.

“Where we are staying it looks as though people are buying properties. It looks to me like people are buying them and not renting them out, which could mean many people may not be able to come down anymore.

“I think there are a lot of second homes here, and I think over the last two-years people are buying more and coming down. But,I don’t think there is poverty in Seaton, not really.

“I agree that a lot of businesses have closed here. We have been coming down before Tesco opened here. I think Tesco is a good addition but the smaller shops have closed, they are mostly tourist shops now.

“We love it here and will continue to come down as much as we can. But it is a shame that where we are staying, it looks as though they are going to be second homes.”

One thought on “Behind tourist trap Seaton is a sad reality..

  1. The government must tackle the problem of second homes in Devon. It is appalling that homes with permanent residents can change to a second home with no planning restrictions. The wealthy can outbuy any local and then just live in the house for one month a year.
    Local shops need a core of residents during the winter months with tourists the “icing on the cake”.
    Viable communities need permanent residents, not empty homes for months every year.

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