Go-ahead for five holiday huts at Beacon Cove

Joseph Bulmer

Five holiday homes and a kiosk are to be built at Beacon Cove in Torquay after being given the thumbs up by Torbay Council.

The buildings, set for private land on the cove’s hillside, were submitted for planning permission by Hemel Hempstead Property Co. (Apsley) Limited, a Hertfordshire-based property developer, which was approved by the council on Monday.

Beacon Cove, just off of Parkhill Road, has had buildings on it in the past but these have all been removed.

The area has since had problems with anti-social behaviour, leading the council to install CCTV and a security gate locking the cove at night.

Developers argue that the holiday homes – which they describe as ‘huts’ -would not affect public access to the cove and its beach and would improve security through ‘passive surveillance’ – people deterring others from criminal activity through their presence.

However, some residents fear the proposed accommodation could increase anti-social behaviour if holidaymakers use the buildings for late-night partying or other disruptive activities.

The council hopes the development could attract tourism revenue and help change the perception of Torbay.

Speaking before the vote, Councillor Jack Dart said: “The site is in need of some TLC. It does need looking at a little bit.

“I think this will show that people are interested in building here, they are interested in improving sites that are perhaps in need of some TLC."

The 27-year-old councillor praised the modern look of the proposed buildings, adding: “Talking on behalf of young people, I do have to say young people need to be encouraged to stay here.

“Young people will be looking at us as a local authority, as a local council, at developers and saying ‘What’s going to keep me here? What’s going to keep us here? What’s going to encourage young people to come here and spend their money and their time?’ and I  think this is the sort of thing that will do that.”

Councillor Jacqueline Thomas said: “I find the development really quite exciting.”

However, Judy Brandon form the Torquay Neighbourhood Forum urged the council to reject the plans, claiming the buildings could create environmental harm and increase antisocial behaviour.

She said: “Five beach huts will provide very little economic benefit compared with the potential significance of environmental and social harm.”

The huts would be holiday homes only and any single user would only be able to stay for a maximum of 12 weeks a year. They would be available year-round.

Modified versions of the planning application have been approved by Torbay Council on four occasions in the past, in 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2016, but building work has never begun and permission has lapsed each time.

The biggest change to the 2016 application is a change to the way sewage from the buildings would be dealt with.

Previously, it was planned to treat the waste sewage before it went into the sea.

Following environmental concerns, wastewater will now be pumped up away from the sea to the public sewer on Beacon Hill.

Councillors and members of the public expressed concerns about the site affecting seagrass in nearby water.

One of the conditions of the approval is that the developer pays for new no-anchor marker buoys in the water outside the cove to warn boats away.

This would not, however, legally stop people from anchoring boats near the cove.

Councillor Karen Kennedy asked for a compulsory no anchoring site to be created for the sea area immediately outside the cove.

Officers noted that such sites were not in place anywhere else in the bay and that it would not be a decision the planning committee or the developers could be involved in.

The application was passed, without Cllr Kennedy’s recommendations and without her approval.

At 4.7 metres above the sea level, the buildings are expected to be safe from rising sea levels for some time.