Exmouth traders celebrate outdoor furniture U-turn

As the local economy begins to re-open, what we need is a local council that listens and is prepared to adapt to the “New Normal” whatever that maybe, particularly in the town centres.

The new administration at EDDC, in the short time it has been in control, shows promising signs of genuinely listening to residents and businesses, and being prepared to react swiftly.

In contrast, Owl’s view is that Devon County Council is stuck in a rut. This is demonstrated by the ponderous suggestion, in this case, of undertaking a “consultation”.

In a recent post Owl reviewed how, last March,  our politicians in Central Government, in Devon County and East Devon failed to rise to the challenge and show leadership, with a few shining exceptions. Since then the “Old Guard” ar EDDC has been replaced by the “New Guard”. The same needs to happen at County Hall.

Exmouth traders celebrate outdoor furniture U-turn

Anita Merritt www.devonlive.com

With just three days to go before hospitality businesses have been given the go-ahead to reopen outdoors, traders in Exmouth have welcomed a ‘significant’ council U-turn which will enable them to keep up outdoor furniture.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) and Devon County Council (DCC) had told businesses that tables and chairs, and even marquees, would need to be taken down each day.

DevonLive reported today, April 9, how George Nightingale, owner of independent award-winning Exmouth pub and restaurant Spoken, did not know whether it would be financially viable to reopen as from April 12, due to lease restrictions which were said to be affecting businesses across East Devon.

However, Spoken, which is situated in the pedestrianised area of the Strand, has now been told by EDDC that it has listened to feedback relating to its sitting-out consent rules and is now offering businesses in the Strand ‘business tenancies’ which will enable them to place tables, chairs and planters/ barriers and temporary marquees is designated areas which can be left out at night.

The new tenancies will be in force until September 30, 2021.

Delighted by the news, George said: “It’s a wonderful result for all the businesses in Exmouth, in particular, but it has far reaching consequences perhaps for other businesses in East Devon and beyond.

“The final details are yet to be thrashed out, but it’s definitely something to look forward to. It makes the area much more usable for all our businesses and also for the locals and visitors to Exmouth.”

The news is also being welcomed by Spoken’s 17 members of staff.

He said: “They will now be able to have more hours and will be able to get paid and move forward as a result of this.”

George also thanked the council for listening to traders concerns.

Spoken in The Strand without any street furniture outside

Spoken in The Strand without any street furniture outside (Image: Google)

He added: “This judgement is of huge significance not just for me, but also the other businesses within The Strand, in particular, all of who will honour the trust that is being placed in us – and not forgetting Exmouth as a whole.

“The Strand is a focal point and must been seen and used as such.

“This really is a genuine move to support business and I cannot thank the council enough. This is absolutely groundbreaking and I know that businesses in the town will not let them down.”

The Spoken began applying to use the outside space on a temporary basis for post-lockdown trading seven months ago.

It is claimed it was only three weeks ago they were told by DCC the matter was going to ‘consultation’. The problem related to a clause in the lease which dates back to when the area outside the Spoken was previously a road 10 years ago.

In a story published earlier today by Devon Live, both EDDC and DCC said the rules over street furniture have to be observed. However, EDDC confirmed it was considering whether alternative agreements can be made to help traders.

Following the latest development, a spokesperson for East Devon District Council said: “We are in correspondence with owners of premises at The Strand and hope to agree a way in which they can all make a success of the forthcoming summer.”

DCC were approached for a comment.

Straight fight between Libdems and Conservatives in Rockbeare EDDC by election.

Independent Progressive Councillor Kathy McLauchlan, who successfully obtained full council backing last October to end “sexist banter” and ditch a freeze on allowances for representatives on maternity leave, resigned at the end of February. 

Kathy McLauchlan won the Whimple and Rockbeare ward comfortably in May 2019, taking it from the Conservatives (702 votes to 234). 

In the 2011 election Martin Gammell won the seat for the Lib Dems but it was retaken by the Conservatives in 2015. A by-election followed in 2017 and Martin came within 36 votes of re-taking it.

Now it will be a straight contest between Richard Lawrence (Conservatives) and Todd Olive (Liberal Democrats). In EDDC the LibDems are part of the “Democratic Alliance”.

Whimple is the home of “uber” Conservative Sarah Randall-Johnson (see this post and many others) who not only is County Councillor for Broadclyst but is also on the Whimple Parish Council. SRJ epitomises the “Old Guard”, Whimple and Rockbeare deserve better than SRJ and her ilk.

Exeter candidate list for May elections

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

The candidates who will stand for election to Exeter City Council – plus several by-elections elsewhere in Devon – have been announced.

Voters will go to the polls on May 6 for the delayed 2020 local elections in Exeter, the full Devon County Council elections, as well as the delayed Police and Crime Commissioner elections, and by-elections in East Devon, South Hams, Mid Devon and Torbay.

Among those who are defending their seats in Exeter are Phil Bialyk, the Labour leader of the council, and Andrew Leadbetter, the leader of the Conservative opposition, and the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats have entered into an electoral arrangement where they will stand aside for each other in six wards.

In Exeter, each elected councillor would normally be appointed for a four year term, with a third of the 39 seats contested each year (one seat per ward), , but the newly elected councillors will instead only serve a three year term to ensure the return to the usual electoral cycle.

The 13 candidates whose seats will be up for grabs are those who gained the most votes in the 2016 elections, with Labour defending 10 seats, the Conservatives two, and Independents one.

Voters in the Mincinglake and Whipton will elected two councillors – with the person receiving the most votes serving a three year term and the runner-up a one year term – with a by-election also taking place following the death of a serving councillor.

The current make-up of the council is Labour (27), Conservative (6), Liberal Democrat (2), Independent (2), Green Party (1), Vacant (1), with Labour needing to win three of the 14 seats up for grabs to retain control of the council.

By-elections will take also place in the Whimple & Rockbeare Ward in East Devon, in the Castle, Taw and Westexe wards in Mid Devon, and in the Ivybridge West ward in the South Hams, with the winning candidates getting a two year term on the council.

Promoted Stories

Below is the list of candidates who are standing, with the * denoting where they are the sitting councillor who is up for re-election.



Julyan Levy (Green Party)

Katherine New (Conservatives)

Rod Ruffle (Liberal Democrats)

Steve Warwick (Labour) *

Duryard and St James

Will Aczel (Liberal Democrats)

Bea Gare (Women’s Equality Party)

Aric Gilinsky (Conservatives)

Martin Pearce (Labour)


Phil Bialyk (Labour) *

Kayleigh Luscombe (Conservatives)

Jamie Lynde (Green Party)

Maya Skelton (Liberal Democrats)


Alfie Carlisle (Conservatives)

Barbara Denning (Labour)

Catherine Rees (Green Party)

Mincinglake and Whipton (2 seats due to one vacancy)

Naima Allcock (Labour)

David Barker-Hahlo (Green Party)

Edward Barradell (Conservatives)

Felix Breet (Liberal Democrats)

Emma Morse (Labour) *

Joseph Straker (Conservatives)

Newton and St Leonard’s

Richard Branston (Labour) *

Dan Grey (Green Party)

George Smith (Conservatives)


Samuel Barnett (Conservatives)

Zion Lights (Labour)

Nigel Williams (Liberal Democrats)


David Harvey (Labour) *

John Harvey (Conservatives)

Henry Mayall (Liberal Democrats)

Lynn Wetenhall (Green Party)


Alys Martin (Labour) *

Joel Punwani (Liberal Democrats)

Charles Russett (Green Party)

James Taghdissian (Conservatives)

St Thomas

Ashley Carr (Conservatives)

Adrian Fullam (Liberal Democrats)

Rob Hannaford (Labour) *

Paul Mouland (Independent)

Frankie Rufolo (For Britain Movement)

St Davids

Arden Foster-Spink (Conservatives)

Amy Sparling (Green Party)

Carol Whitton (Labour)

St Loye’s

Jack Eade (Green Party)

Olwen Foggin (Labour) *

Debbie Frayne (For Britain Movement)

Anne Jobson (Conservatives)

Kris Mears (Liberal Democrats)


Christine Campion (Liberal Democrats)

Ivan Jordan (Labour)

Andrew Leadbetter (Conservatives) *

Jon Mills (Green Party)


Whimple and Rockbeare

Richard Lawrence (Conservatives)

Todd Olive (Liberal Democrats)



Richard Cornley (Labour)

Jason Lejeune (Independent)

Elizabeth Slade (Conservative)

David Wulff (Liberal Democrats)


Peter Heal (Conservatives)

Mark Wooding (Liberal Democrats)


Stephen Bush (Independent)

Claire Hole (Independent)

Adrian Howell (Independent)

Samuel James (Labour)

Stephen Pugh (Conservatives)

Rosie Wibberley (Green Party)


Ivybridge West

Louise Jones (Conservatives)

Tony Rea (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)

Katie Reville (Green Party)

Government backtracks on raising affordable housing threshold

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has stated that the proposal to raise the site threshold for affordable homes provision has been dropped.

(Good news but slipped out during Easter – Owl)


According to MHCLG, the measure, which would have temporarily lifted the small sites threshold for affordable housing provision to 40 or 50 homes, would not be necessary at this stage due to the industry’s robustness in the face of the pandemic and “the other measures we have available to support SMEs”.

The measure was proposed to support SMEs during the economic upheavals of the coronavirus crisis.

MHCLG said it would continue to closely monitor the market and speak to SME housebuilders about their challenges and the support that could be given, adding that there are no plans to raise the small sites threshold at this stage.

In current policy, a site of ten homes or more is considered a “major development” and will be subject to affordable housing provision.

In December, the government decided to scrap another proposal from the consultation – changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need. MHCLG planned to introduce an algorithm that would have increased housebuilding in the south of England. But the proposals caused consternation among Conservative MPs.

On the proposed change to the affordable homes threshold, MHCLG said: “The government consulted on raising the small sites threshold in order to assess if it was necessary in the economic circumstances to provide additional support to SME builders.

“We have carefully considered the consultation feedback and the situation in the housing market. On balance, we do not consider this measure to be necessary at this stage, particularly in light of the broader way in which the sector has responded to the challenges of the pandemic and the other measures we have available to support SMEs.

“We therefore do not think any change to existing policy is currently needed.”

“Events, dear boy, events”. Boris reverses “irreversible” plan for post-lockdown pint

Boris Johnson has dropped plans to raise a post-lockdown pint today out of respect after the death of Prince Philip.

The Prime Minister had planned to visit a newly-reopened pub as lockdown eases in England, saying he would be “cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips.”

However, he has axed the trip as the government cancels all routine ministerial press conferences, interviews and visits in the wake of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death aged 99

Town Hall Rich List 2021 and EDDC lack of tranparency

This is the list of Town Hall staff receiving over £100K in FY 2019/2020.

Interesting to see that Mark Wiiliams, seems to be the highest paid District Chief Exec. in Devon, a short snout ahead of Teignbridge. (But this depends on how you count “compensation payments” in Torridge and North Devon. (For example, Jenny Wallace left Torridge in February so these may relate to contact terminations.)

MW is no doubt delighted to beat Karime Hassan of Exeter (former Corporate Director EDDC) despite the latter’s controversial double hat of Chief Executive and Growth Director.

The real interest to Owl is that Mark Williams is not the most highly paid member of staff in EDDC. That accolade goes to a person described as U.N.Disclosed. EDDC also boasts a second member of this family in the £100K+ club.

It’s our money paying their salaries, why the secrecy,?   

In FY 19/20 Mark Williams got £118,164 + 17,725 pension = £135,889, and U.N Disclosed got £152,500. For comparison the PM’s pay was £154,908 (about £4K less than entitlement).    

Town Hall Rich List 2021

Apr 07 2021 www.taxpayersalliance.com


Town Hall Rich List 2021 marks the 14th version of this list, first compiled in 2007. For the past 14 years the TaxPayers’ Alliance has assembled the most comprehensive list of council employees in the UK in receipt of over £100,000 in total remuneration.

For the average (band D) property, taxpayers in England will have to pay a council tax rise of 4.4 per cent or an extra £81 per year in 2021-22.[1]  Wales will see an average increase of 3.8 per cent.[2] Scottish councils have frozen 2021-22 council tax rates at 2020-21 levels. This is in exchange for receiving a cash grant from the Scottish government equivalent to a three per cent council tax increase.[3]

Against this background, the number of local authority employees receiving over £100,000 in total remuneration has risen to the highest level since 2013-14.[4]

Click here to read the report.

Click here for council-by-council breakdown of data.

Key findings

  • At least 2,802 people employed by local authorities in 2019-20 received more than £100,000 in total remuneration, an increase of 135 on 2018-19. 693 received over £150,000, 26 more than the previous year.
  • The average number of employees who received over £100,000 in total remuneration per local authority is seven. The average number receiving over £150,000 is 1.7 employees per council.
  • The local authority with the greatest number of employees whose remuneration was in excess of £100,000 was Essex county council with 40 employees, five more than the previous year. Glasgow had the highest number of employees receiving over £150,000 at 14, two more than the previous year.
  • The highest remunerated council employee in 2019-20 was the deputy chief executive at Coventry council, receiving £573,660 in total remuneration. This included a loss of office payment of £395,110, pension payment of £26,559, and salary of £151,991.
  • A total of 31 local authority employees received remuneration in excess of a quarter of a million pounds in 2019-20. This was one fewer than the previous year.
  • The local authority to pay out the highest amount in terms of bonuses and performance related pay to a senior employee was Edinburgh city council, with the general manager of Edinburgh Trams receiving a £48,895 bonus.
  • Total expenses paid to senior employees in the UK amounted to £1,274,497, with the highest amount (£38,043) being claimed by Simon Baker, the now former chief executive of High Peak borough council.
  • A total of 21 local authority employees received a loss of office payment of more than £95,000, the cap on payoffs for public sector employees. This cap was briefly in force between 4 November 2020 and 12 February 2021 and did not cover the period of this year’s Town Hall Rich List. It has since been revoked.[5]

Click here to read the report.

Click here for council-by-council breakdown of data.

Support our research by sharing on social media:


[1] Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Council Tax levels set by local authorities in England 2021 to 2022, 25 March 2021, http://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/council-tax-levels-set-by-local-authorities-in-england-2021-to-2022, (accessed 25 March 2021).

[2] StatsWales, Annual increase in average band D council tax, by billing authority,  https://statswales.gov.wales/Catalogue/Local-Government/Finance/Council-Tax/Levels/annualpercentageincreaseinaveragebanddcounciltax-by-billingauthority, (accessed 25 March 2021).

[3] BBC, All Scottish councils agree to tax freeze, 11 March 2021,  www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-56320853, (accessed 25 March 2021).

[4] TaxPayers’ Alliance, Town Hall Rich List 2015, 2015.

[5] Sharma, M, Public sector redundancy payment cap scrapped by government, HR Review, 15 February 2021, www.hrreview.co.uk/hr-news/public-sector-redundancy-payment-cap-scrapped-by-government/131756, (accessed 25 March 2021).

Rules row could see Exmouth pubs remain closed

Is this another “Exmouth Regeneration” legacy problem? – Owl

Anita Merritt www.devonlive.com

An independent award-winning Exmouth pub and restaurant is one of many businesses in the town centre that should be looking forward to finally reopening next week does not know whether it will be financially viable after being told it has to remove its outdoor furniture, including a marquee, every night.

Spoken, which is situated in the pedestrianised area of The Strand, says it has found itself in the midst of ‘unnecessary bureaucracy’ with East Devon District Council (EDDC) and Devon County Council (DCC) due to lease restrictions which are said to be affecting businesses across East Devon.

George Nightingale, owner of Spoken, says he began applying to use the outside space on a temporary basis for post-lockdown trading seven months ago.

He claims it was only three weeks ago he was told by DCC the matter was going to ‘consultation’.

Now just days away from further lockdown restrictions being lifted permitting hospitality venues to serve people outdoors as from April 12, George says no further progress has been made.

As it currently stands, the venue which is permitted to trade between 6am to 1am, would have to remove its tables and marquee in between those hours and erect it again.

Both EDDC and DCC says the rules have to be observed. However, EDDC has confirmed it is considering whether alternative agreements can be made to help traders.

George said: “We have been told we are not allowed to keep anything outside overnight.

“It makes our outside unusable as it would take a couple of hours to take down the marquee and erect it again.

“As it stands throughout the region, marquees are classified as furniture, and all furniture must be removed from the already licensed space each night.

“This is not possible, practical or sensible, or has any common sense applied to it.

“What we can’t mitigate against is the weather so we will have to open on a day-by-day basis depending on the forecast. I can’t afford to employ a team of people depending on what the weather may be.”

Spoken in The Strand without any street furniture outside

Spoken in The Strand without any street furniture outside (Image: Google)

The problem lies in a clause in the lease which dates back to when the area outside the Spoken was previously a road ten years ago.

George explained: “There has not been a road here for 10 years but as it has not been declassified as a road, the council have stated it is ‘technically’ still a road.

“Previously I have put on a lot of street entertainment, but now the council is threatening to remove my licence permanently if I put anything up at all which is ‘blocking the road – a road that doesn’t exist’. All it would take is the council to remove one line in the lease, but it won’t – despite central government instructing councils to take a pragmatic approach to the reopening of hospitality.

“The rest of the country, such as Soho in London and areas in Bristol, are closing roads and finding ways to allow businesses to trade. However, both councils are trying to stop it so we will be effectively shut in anything other than perfect weather when the rest of the country is trading. How is that fair?

“We are one of the biggest hit industries by the pandemic and the government support has been first class. We want our town to be encouraging people to come out in a safe environment they want to sit in, but we are unable to provide that because of bureaucracy, and nobody willing to make a decision.

“Customers will quite rightly go to venues which can provide shelter from the elements on their own private land instead.

“Exmouth has a great opportunity to welcome visitors not going abroad and to provide a quality environment that will make them return in the future.

“How can this region and town centre that was purpose built for this be so left behind because of the unnecessary bureaucracy at a time when businesses and the region itself need it the most, and the council’s own remit is to support businesses?”

Calls are being made by local independent councillor Paul Millar to allow businesses in the town to be able to keep up outdoor coverings to enable them to reopen.

He said: “I am really concerned that some of Exmouth’s pubs and restaurants on the Strand, and elsewhere across East Devon, are being faced with the situation of not being able to open on 12th April after they have done so much to keep their customers safe.

“In my view, outdoor coverings such as gazebos and marquees shouldn’t be classified as furniture, the Secretary of State Robert Jenrick needs to make this matter clear to EDDC and DCC which has a legal duty to follow to the letter and the spirit guidance set by central government.

“For me, the burden of removing outdoor coverings for a few hours overnight and re-erecting them again in the morning is totally unreasonable. Businesses should be looking forward to reopening and staff should be allowed to fully focus on keeping the public safe.

“I have requested that officers at EDDC urgently contact councils in other areas of the country with a view to hopefully being able to amend our own local guidance in order to allow outdoor coverings to stay outside overnight where there is clear public support for this, such as The Strand.”

However, in the mean time the rules will still apply.

A spokesman for DCC said: “We have to be fair and consistent with how we issue and manage the licenses, and the paved area of the Strand outside Spoken is classed as a public highway, therefore the general public have the right to access and use it.

“We are clear in the terms of the licence that items, such as tables and chairs must be removable. While we are able, under certain circumstances, to authorise the use of a highway for other activities, at other times it should be free for the passage of highway users.”

A spokesperson for EDDC said: “EDDC cannot comment on the position of DCC.

“With regard to the EDDC owned land, the trader entered into a Sitting Out Consent with EDDC on November 26, 2020, to allow the use of a sitting out area until September 30, 2021.

“The council’s Sitting Out Consent provides that all furniture and structures must be removed from the land overnight. The provision is clearly contained within the Sitting Out Consent signed by the trader.

“The council has confirmed that it expects the trader to comply with the provisions of the agreement that it entered into with the council.

“In view of the issues raised by this trader and others in the vicinity, the council is considering whether alternative agreements can be entered into to enable the traders to trade in the way that they wish.

“However, this could impact on the ability of the general public to use the Strand and particularly the community groups who use the area for fundraising. The council is keen to ensure that there is no detriment to the general public and the community organisations.

“The council will be in touch with the traders further as soon as possible to confirm a potential way forward.”

Anger over five month E.ON road closures

Ahh, Cranbrook again! The “light touch” developer-led way to build the future. – Owl

Anita Merritt www.devonlive.com

Cranbrook residents have raised concerns about five months of road closures in the town which is said to be already struggling with traffic and safety problems.

Three phases of road closures have been announced which began this week and will continue until September 3.

The planned work is to enable energy company E.ON to install a new eastern transmission main to supply hot water and heating to the eastern parts of the town and replace the need for the temporary energy centre currently operating near the Linden sales office.

Devon live has previously reported complaints from frustrated residents who say they have been faced with endless power outages leaving them without heating or hot water.

Although the works will impact on the B3174 – the old A30 – residents have been assured the whole of the stretch of the road will not be closed at the same time.

However, concerns have been raised by some residents who say that it will increase traffic problems in the town and it poses safety risks.

Cranbrook Town Council has said traffic and safety issue in the town are in need of review and have raised it with highway officers.

A local man, who has lived in Cranbrook for four years, said: “The official diversion for these roadworks send traffic away from Cranbrook, a route which is of some significant distance to the daily commuter that uses the B3174.

“Now it is widely known and accepted that people will drive through Cranbrook along Tillhouse and Younghayes roads increasing the traffic flow significantly.

“These roads are already of some concern for safety due to parking, traffic and a complete lack of pedestrian crossings in a town which is supposed to be a town promoting healthy living.”

Revealing what impact the first road closure has had on the town so far this week, he said: “As expected traffic around the morning rush hour was fairly stationary, both outbound and inbound. The primary cause for this was the traffic lights outside E.ON in the morning.

“The afternoon rush hour was again stationary inbound into Cranbrook. On Wednesday afternoon the traffic was not too bad as there is no longer a campervan parked just off the roundabout as you come into Cranbrook.”

Other residents have questioned why the works are taking place now rather than previously.

One man said: “Why is this even happening? Was it a surprise to E.ON and the council that more houses were being built?

“As usual zero forward planning. This infrastructure should have been installed years ago.”

E.ON has explained why the road closures are in place and how the works will benefit the town.

An E.ON spokesperson said: “Temporary road closures are necessary from time to time to ensure infrastructure improvements can be made. In this case, we’re working to expand the existing district heating network in the wider Cranbrook vicinity and install the resilience to support the ongoing growth of the district heating network.

“We’ve worked closely with the local authority to ensure we carry out the work safely, effectively and to minimise local disruption, in line with all their usual procedures.”

The announced road closures are:

April 6 to May 14 – From Younghayes Road roundabout to Treasbeare Lane (Treasbeare Cottages)

May 17 to June 25 – From Treasbeare Lane to Parsons Lane

June 28 to September 3 – From Parsons Lane to Court Royal

A spokesman for Devon County Council said: “This work requires significant highway excavation so traffic management is essential and has been carefully considered as part of the planning process.

“We will continue to work with E.ON to monitor any disruption and minimise the impact where possible.”

Cranbrook Town Council has assured residents the whole of the B3174 will not be closed at the same time for months and all traffic will not be going past the Education Campus.

A town council spokesperson said: “In all cases the signed diversion route is via the A3052, but we know that drivers with local knowledge will use more local routes to avoid the closure.

“We understand that Highways England declined consent to use the A30 as a signed diversion route.

“While we appreciate this situation will create more traffic in the town and that this will, at times, be inconvenient and cause some delay to motorists, the disruption is unavoidable while this essential work is carried out.

“There have been demands to stop all parking along Younghayes Road and along other parts of the main local routes through the town, but that would have the effect of creating faster speeds through the town.

“While parked vehicles cause delay and disruption to traffic flows, they have the added impact of slowing and calming traffic. So this is a balance between inconvenience and overall safety.

“Any requests for temporary parking restrictions would be a matter for the highway authority, but at this stage the town council is not seeking any such restrictions.

“The question of pedestrian crossings in the town is a more general issue and one that the town council and locally elected members have been pursuing with the highway authority along with other traditional road safety measures.

“To date the approach in Cranbrook is to have no traditional lines and signs and allow the design of roads and differing surfaces to create road safety features and traffic calming.

“For some time we have felt that this policy for Cranbrook is in need of review and have raised it with highway officers. We have plans to address this in a meeting with the highway authority and the MP after the forthcoming county council elections.

“In addition to pedestrian crossings, we will be asking the highway authority to review the use of white and yellow lines in the town to address the instances of inappropriate and inconsiderate parking particularly adjacent to road junctions, on footways and across cycle ways.”

Highways England were approached for a comment.

Restoration plan for historic Salston Manor green-lit

Plans to save one of Ottery St Mary’s most important buildings have been approved.

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com 

East Devon District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday morning unanimously agreed to support plans that would see 13 new homes built within the grounds of the former Salston Manor on the edge of the town.

The plans would also see an extension to the building constructed for a further two homes, and would enable a previously consented but not implemented scheme for the conversion of the main building to form 11 flats to go ahead.

Councillors heard that the site is outside the built-up area boundary of Ottery St Mary and was contrary to Local Plan policies, particularly as no affordable housing was to be provided, but that the wider benefits from the restoration of the listed building outweigh the negatives of the scheme and thus it was recommended for approval.

The Salston Manor Hotel in Ottery St Mary

The Salston Manor Hotel in Ottery St Mary

Development manager Chris Rose said: “This will secure the future of the heritage asset so we have to decide whether bringing the listed building back into use outweighs the harm of the buildings in the countryside.

“Officers are of the opinion that the proposals would result in less than substantial harm to the character and setting of Salston Manor. In the absence of any significant harm to the character and appearance of the area, the residential amenities of the occupiers of surrounding properties, ecology, or flood risk, it is considered that the proposed development is acceptable, bringing a major benefit through the restoration of the listed building.”

Chris Riley, the joint owner and applicant, said that the principle of development had already been agreed for a scheme to enable the restoration of the heritage asset, and that the plans were sympathetic and balanced and were needed to fund the restoration works.

Cllr Geoff Pratt, who represents the Ottery St Mary rural ward, said: “The problem is that the building has suffered so much damage in the last 14 years since lying empty and the cost must be extraordinary to deal with the matter, so I understand why they are making this application today.

“It is a famous building for Ottery St Mary and listed, and it needs to be dealt with, and we need to go along with this, and we can decide the heritage benefits will outweigh any harm to the property. I want to look after this listed building and this is the main priority here.”

Redevelopment of The Salston Manor Hotel in Ottery St Mary

Redevelopment of The Salston Manor Hotel in Ottery St Mary

Cllr Philip Skinner added: “It is sad it has fallen into the disrepair it has. The history of the building is vital for Ottery. This will be a massive job and while it is a departure from policy, it is for the greater good. I recommend this for approval as I don’t want it to fall into disrepair.”.

The proposal will see 13 new dwellings constructed within the grounds in three blocks situated to the south-west, east and north east of the main house respectively.

In addition, an extension to the main house to the east will be constructed which would house a further two apartments, and two further flats in a link extension. Combined with the existing flats within the building to be built out as part of the 2013 application, this will give 13 flats in total within and attached to the main building, making a total of 26 units within the entire site.