Why did a perfectly good care home, and a Cottage Hospital close in Budleigh?

This comment from Anthony Rowcraft was posted a few days ago:

“A perfectly good care home, Shanford, in Budleigh Salterton was closed a couple of years ago amid much controversy and speculation as to who would benefit. Elderly patients were moved out against their wishes and staff given notice. It’s still empty!!!! Could it be reopened rather than using hotels??”

This has prompted Owl to commision an investigation into the current situation.

This investigation indicates that, despite attempts to sell  the unoccupied “Shandford” it  is still owned by Julie Rhodes of Agency Assistance who bought it at auction from Abbeyfield at the height of the Covid epidemic in December 2020.

To recapitulate the history of Shandford:

Shandford started as a care home in 1958 for local people funded by the people of Budleigh Salterton. In 2012, the trustees ceded it to Abbeyfield under a covenant that should Abbeyfield sell the property then the proceeds should be returned to “the people of Budleigh Salterton”

The closure was based on Abbeyfield’s declared aim of “freeing up assets” as it changes its business model to concentrate on larger homes; and County Councillor Christine Channon’s handpicked adviser, Chris Davis, who claimed that Shandford was no longer viable. Owl understands Chris Davis’ report has never been made public.

A local community effort to take back control failed despite the intervention of newly elected Simon Jupp MP.

During this process Owl received plausible arguments that showed that there were grounds to challenge the case for non-viability.

However, it now seems the proceeds (less expenses) have been returned to “the people of Budleigh Salterton” by way of the charity: “the Shandford Trust” registered just over a year ago.

A search of the Charity Commission web site reveals:

THE SHANDFORD TRUST – Charity 1192048 at year ending 31 December 2021 expended £696 on charitable activities, retaining £728.30k for future use.

“The Trust provides grant funding to older people for their accommodation or care, particularly those in financial need, those who are frail or with disabilities, who live in Budleigh Salterton, East Budleigh, Otterton, Colaton Raleigh or Bicton. It is indiscriminate as to age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.”

The charity commission lists Christopher Haward Davis as Chair of trustees. 

Dr Richard Mejzner is also listed as another of the eight trustees. It is Interesting to note that Mejzner is also a trustee of two other charities: LEAGUE OF FRIENDS OF THE BUDLEIGH SALTERTON HOSPITAL; and the recently registered SEACHANGE DEVON. This would seem to be the CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) now running the old BS Cottage Hospital, previously managed by Westbank as a “Hospital Hub” (a hospital without any beds).

Sarah Hicks is Chair of Trustees of Seachange Devon and is also currently CEO of Westbank Community Health and Care. It’s a small world.

Is Budleigh about to lose its “hospital” as well?

Budleigh Salterton was one of the first hospitals to lose all its hospital beds which served as a convalescent stepping stone between acute care and returning home. It was retained as a “hospital hub”.

Of further interest is the fact that this hospital site has not only been offered up as a potential development site in the draft EDDC Local Plan (by the freeholders Clinton Devon Estates?), but has been allocated as such. Under the terms of the lease, the site reverts to the freeholder when it is no longer used as a hospital.

Below is an extract from  the Site Selection and Settlement Boundary Setting (under Tier 3 settlements)

Settlement: Budleigh Salterton 

Site reference number: Budl_06 

Site Address: Budleigh Salterton Community Hospital, East Budleigh Road, Budleigh Salterton, Devon, EX9 6HF

Accessibility assessment: Budl_06 is within 1600 metres of at least 8 different types of services and facilities, including a GP practice, community hall, post office, pubs, shops and a primary and school. The site is close to an hourly bus route. Pedestrian access into the town centre is available along safe walking routes.

Other known site constraints: The site is currently used but the NHS as a health and wellbeing hub, providing local employment and a community facility.

Site opportunities: It would be possible to convert existing buildings to residential use. 

Amended Maximum Yield following discounted areas on site: 20

Brief summary of the key positives and negatives of the site: Budl_06 may provide an opportunity for conversion of existing buildings and some new development on a brownfield site very well related to services and facilities if it is no longer required for community use.

Should the site be allocated?     YES

3 thoughts on “Why did a perfectly good care home, and a Cottage Hospital close in Budleigh?

  1. I note that the consultation for the local plan is still due to close this weekend despite an apparent acceptance by the government that the housing demands placed on local authorities are outdated and excessive.

    All parties interested in the future of our communities should make their feelings known.

    In this case the viability report should be published without delay, especially considering that the person who made it is still involved, and also taking into account that this is yet another site within the local plan that stands to benefit a member of the EDBF.

    No wonder the CEO was so insistent that planning matters were not within the scope of the TAFF into the activities of the EDBF, in those days when the sheer weight of numbers held by the majority meant that his “legal advice” was all that was required, without recourse to outsiders.


    • The Budleigh Hub is a lifeline for my mum and many others. Provides amazing service with coffee shop ,ready meals ,exercise ,Chime and nurse appointments,hub cars for medical appointments.


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