South Hams District Council has come under fire from a parish council and residents of seaside village for its planning policies, as Hope Cove gets more holiday homes.
There are 400 homes in the village of Hope Cove. The village is in south Devon, close to popular Salcombe. The council has given permission for two hotels in Hope Cove to be converted into holiday homes. All very well, you may think, but of all the properties in the village, only 80 have permanent residents living in them. All the rest are second homes or holiday homes.
One permanent resident is a retired Londoner who moved there in 2009. He described the place as a ‘graveyard’ out of holiday season and criticised the council for not attempting to attract younger people to the village. The number of people in permanent residence meant there were often too few residents to run organisations or associations. Many of the locals have accepted that it is too late for laws that might protect villages like Hope Cove from being overrun with holiday homes and second homes.
The neighbourhood plan for South Huish was passed in May, stating that a hotel or tourism related site should only be granted permission for change of use if it could be proved that there was “no significant loss of hotel accommodation in the Parish or detriment to local employment through the loss of hotel accommodation will result” and that “demand for the hotel accommodation no longer exists.”
Redevelopment of existing properties would be allowed, if the change of use supported the plan’s objectives to “provide employment and affordable housing”. To justify the loss of a hotel or tourism related site as no longer viable, the applicant must demonstrate through independent assessment that the vacant unit had been actively marketed and offered at a reasonable sale price for a minimum period of 2 years.
Despite, this, the owners of the two hotels have been given planning permission to convert the properties into holiday homes.
Fourteen bedrooms will be lost at Lantern Lodge. Its owners applied to demolish the property to build five houses in 2016, but permission was refused as it would mean the “loss of a valued tourist facility in a prime location”. It also did not “provide affordable housing in an area with an exceptional need”. With its new permission, the property will make nine holiday flats, five residential homes and a staff residence.
Sand Pebbles Hotel will lose ten bedrooms when it is converted into five holiday cottages and owners’ accommodation.
A parish councillor, originally from Coventry, suggested the developers were more interested in making money from holiday flats than hotels.
The remaining hotels in Hope Cove are fully booked.