What price Britain’s Heritage?

28 May

Budleigh Longboat Site Photos 1 smallOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A unique historic feature, in a World Heritage Site, will be sold to developers, if East Devon District Council has its way. This double-whammy has prompted a plea from Budleigh Salterton residents, for more objectors to write to EDDC about its latest NEW set of plans for the demolition of the Longboathouse (ref. 13/0889/FUL).

David Daniel, of the Budleigh Longboat Association writes:“If you share any of our views we would be grateful for your support” . Please send your objections,  citing 13/0889/FUL, to:

EDDC planning website or e-mail: planningcentral@eastdevon.gov.uk
or write to
EDDC Central Planning Team
EX10 8HL

Here’s David’s summary of what it’s all about:

“For six years, the Budleigh Longboat Association, a group of residents, has been fighting a plan to build a two storey restaurant on the beach under the cliffs. A poll conducted last year by the Town Council, in the spirit of localism, showed 78% against a plan almost identical to the present, new, application (1163 voters in a 36% turnout – more votes than 70% of EDDC councillors received).
There are two main issues:
This is the first planning application to be made for development inside the footprint of any UK Natural World Heritage Site (in this case the Jurassic Coast WHS). It exposes the non existence of any meaningful National protection for these sites and, if passed would set a precedent. For years EDDC refused to acknowledge that it was in the WHS, now they say it is “in the setting but has no impact” and have waived the need for any Environmental Impact Assessment. Throughout, Natural England have sustained the following objections (in their words):
As a point of clarification the WHS designation is underpinned by the statutory SSSI designations along the coast, so where SSSIs exist at the coast, as is the case at Budleigh Salterton, the boundary of the WHS and SSSI is contiguous. Therefore the existing longboat building lies within both the SSSI and the WHS boundary.
• Impact upon the ‘setting’ of the World Heritage Site, including views to or from the Site and impacts on the understanding and interpretation of the site due to the location, scale and design of the building and the materials proposed.
• The sustainability of any development in this location and the risk that it may prejudice future decisions regarding the need for coastal defences in the area which would adversely impact upon the unique geomorphological interest of the Budleigh Salterton Cliffs SSSI and hence the WHS.
It also requires the demolition of the last known example of an Admiralty Longboat House belonging to the Grade II listed Coastguard Station on the cliffs above. (Longboats were the utility ship’s boat of Nelson’s fleet, so utilitarian that no examples of any boat remain). BS residents were perplexed that English Heritage failed to include the boathouse on the beach when they listed the coastguard complex on top of the cliff behind, despite having the Admiralty plans. This Victorian coastguard station is one of the most complete examples in the country.
Despite this strong local opposition, East Devon District Council granted permission last year ignoring formal objections from: Natural England, the World heritage Management Team and the Town Council. However, the High Court has granted me a judicial review into claims of errors and misdirections in the process used to force the approval through the planning committee. This review is due to be heard on November 8.
Bizarrely, a new application has now been submitted, which is almost identical to one rejected last year just before the contested approval. The application seems designed to bypass the judicial system. It raises further questions about whether and how EDDC can deal validly with this application. They have a vested interest in approving it to further their legal defence in the judicial review.
This might seem to be a small matter in the general run of EDDC planning applications. To BS residents it represents an attempt to start commercialising the unspoilt charm of our beach, which differentiates it from other beaches. The way EDDC is handling this application in a WHS/SSSI/AONB raises fundamental issues which should be of concern to all. “
East Devon Alliance (EDA) members would certainly agree!

16 Responses to “What price Britain’s Heritage?”

  1. Sandra Semple May 29, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    I wonder if any of our majority party councillors have grandmothers to sell – or have they gone already to the highest bidder? And maybe check your own grandmother – she might have been sold off behind your back!

  2. Mary Walden-Till May 29, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    Before Christmas I asked the EDDC if they had a ‘local list’ of Heritage Assets as they are required to have, and if so where I could find it. I never received a reply and still can’t find a List.

    If something is a Heritage Asset on the Local List then a Statement of Significance is required for a planning application. This application doesn’t seem to have one.

    So, this longboat station should be Listed as a Heritage Asset and therefore a SS is needed. EDDC need to compile a list pronto, unless someone else knows that there is one and where it can be found.

    • David Daniel May 30, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

      In January 2012 the Budleigh Salterton Town Council made a formal request to EDDC to list the Longboat as a ‘Non-designated Asset of Local Historical Interest’. Their request continued:
      “It is just such protection in response to local demand that is encouraged by the Localism Bill, as the way to acknowledge the views of residents concerns about their locality and its historical assets. Additionally, East Devon District Council’s draft Local Plan 2006-2026 lays considerable emphasis on heeding the views of local residents.
      This is the last known surviving example of an Admiralty Longboat House; the plans prove its provenance. It remains largely as these plans indicated, with decorative brickwork under the render. A passer-by can still clearly interpret the original purpose of this building within yards of the sea and its relationship to the Grade II listed access steps and Coastguard cottages on the cliff top above. It is irrational, under PPS5, to continue to say that this building has “no historical” value. It should be given protection as a non designated local asset of historic interest.
      In 2010 the listing of the Longboat House was reviewed by the Department of Media Culture and Sport but narrowly failed. The listing officer commented:
      “Although the building does not meet the statutory criteria for listing in the national context that does not mean that it has no heritage value. Its historic interest and limited architectural interest has been acknowledged and this is now something that can be considered locally”.
      To allow its demolition for purely commercial financial gain would be to show that EDDC has scant regard for our local heritage, for Budleigh Salterton’s place in national history, and for the voices of local people.”
      EDDC response was not to consider it because it wasn’t listed! (Catch 22).

      • Mary Walden-Till June 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

        I am still perplexed.
        The National Planning laws quite clearly state that the councils must maintain a list of heritage assets which are important but not listed. How can being ‘not listed’ stop it being included on a list of ‘not listed’ things?

        Someone needs to put pressure on the EDDC to produce a list if they don’t have one already.

      • David Daniel June 3, 2013 at 9:06 am #

        When it gets in the way of hidden agendas!

        The request to list as a non designated asset of historical intersest not only had the blessing from the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sports (see quote above) but was also backed by 73% majority to a specific questio to list as a non designated asset in the poll mentioned at the beginning of this blog.

        Sir Humphrey Appleby’s answer to your question would undoubtedly be that a list exists but there is no requirement that anything be listed in it. (There are rumours that he now works as a consultant to EDDC).

  3. Marker May 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    English Heritage must have had a reason not to list. From the photos it looks like a monstrosity of a Victorian carbuncle. Demolish and rebuild with something for future generations rather than focus on useless, ugly buildings of the past. And it provides support for the tourist industry and rural economy – hurrah! Step forward Budleigh people and embrace your children’s future….

  4. Sandra Semple May 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    That would be the tourist industry that gets barely a mention from EDDC councillors at any time and which is almost totally ignored in the Local Plan would it?

    • Mike Temple May 30, 2013 at 7:39 am #

      A country with no future destroys its past.

  5. Not A Developer May 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    And a country that does not value its past has no future.

  6. Marker May 30, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    And a country that only thinks about preserving the past in aspic is stuffed. Wake up and smell the coffee. At least for your grandchildren if not your selfish selves…

  7. Medusa May 30, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    And there go another few hundred votes to UKIP! Keep it up, Marker – we NEED you! Are you sure you aren’t Nick Bowles!

    • David Daniel June 1, 2013 at 10:51 am #

      If you look at the BS Town Council poll results given above the number could be an order of magnitude larger.

  8. Professor Mark Horton May 30, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    The saga of the longboat house is one of monstrous incompetence and willful neglect of our world heritage by various organisations that have been entrusted with the protection of our heritage and environment. Much of the blame lies with English Heritage, who failed to list the building despite an overwhelming intellectual and historical case to do so. This is the last remaining example of this type of building, and on those grounds alone, it should have been protected. The fact it is also in the WHS, and connected to existing Grade 2 buildings strengthens the case. I am afraid that their failure to list is based on crass ignorance of our maritime heritage, and a basic failure of their competence as guardians of our heritage.

    The district council have not come out well either, showing themselves to be supine is a very clear case of an application that both fails to follow their own planning guidance, and WHS management panning, and which would have been clearly thrown out at Public Inquiry.

    Please continue to support this campaign. I would love to feature the longboat house on Coast – its a fabulous story and one that needs telling to the wider world.

  9. Marker May 30, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    I thought only six people followed this site…?

  10. Lynda Benson. May 30, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    I would also feel enthusiastic about an ‘exciting’ modern restaurant on the sea front in Budleigh Salterton, one that has a really excellent chef who could inspire the locals to don their Welles and Sou’wester to brave the wind and rain and walk from Lyme Kiln car park to its minimalist interior to gaze at the view and eat like Kings. Realistically there is not much to see except of course on a clear moonlight night, often you are looking out on blackness and its rare to get a good meal these days!. It only needs a disappointing one to dim the enthusiasm to go again, as we have witnessed so often in the Town. Where will all the campaigners be then I wonder? Will they regret it if it fails and is sold on to a tacky fast food chain perhaps? It could happen. So why change what is wonderful. There are very few really unspoilt beaches left around the coast. Lets marvel at ours!

  11. Marker May 31, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    Crab salad washed down with a fine Chablis anyone…? I thought everyone in Budleigh drank Chablis??!!!

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