Historic thatched cottage to be demolished

By Philip Churm   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Thursday 20th January 2022 11:26 am

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A plan to demolish an historic thatched garage in Thurlestone and replace it with a new building have been given the go ahead, despite objections from the parish council.

Councillors on South Ham’s planning committee decided that the 1930s building at The Thatches in Thurlestone could not be protected and accepted that it was in a poor condition.

Arguments by Thurlestone Parish Council that the building was distinctive and of aesthetic value were largely rejected by a majority of committee members who agreed the garage could be demolished.

The applicants, Mr and Mrs M Fairbrass, were seeking permission for a replacement garage and store because they suggested the existing structure was not suitable for vehicles and dry storage.

The plans were being studied by the committee because Thurlestone Parish Council said they had serious concerns about a new garage for the site.

They argued that there was no justification for a new build garage, together with log and bins stores, outside the settlement boundary in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Heritage Coast and Undeveloped Coast.

The parish council also said the building was not a ‘like-for-like’ replacement because the existing building was used for storage and was not large enough for garage use. Also that the proposed replacement was significantly larger than the existing building.

In addition, parish councillors suggested, although the building was not named in the Thurlestone parish neighbourhood plan, it was a heritage asset and met five of the local heritage listing criteria used by Historic England for deciding non-designated heritage assets, namely:

the age of the asset, which reflects distinctive local characteristics or building

its aesthetic interest, as judged against local styles, materials and other distinctive local characteristics

reflects a clear visual design/ historic relationship

has an historical association with a local figure/family

contributes to the ‘collective memory’ of a place.

Earlier, applicant Mark Fairbrass had responded to the objections. He said: “Nobody from the parish council has offered to look at the building. If they had they would see that its constructed from single concrete blocks. The windows are rotten. It’s incorrect to say the thatch is in good condition. It is not. The south facing side is so poor it leaks.”

Some councillors spoke of the need to protect the building on the grounds of its local historical value.

Cllr Jacqi Hodgson (Green, Dartington and Staverton) said: “At the moment that thatch sits well into the landscape. It also sits well into the surrounding heritage buildings.

“The 1930s was an interesting time for this area because there’s quite a lot of representation of that period – the arts and crafts – and it’s important that we remember our history.

“And so I think I would actually move refusal. It’s the loss of a building that has social heritage value.”

Others were sympathetic but suggested they had little alternative but to approve the plans because it did not have any legal protection.

Cllr Richard Foss (Conservative, Allington and Strete) said he respected the objections of the parish council but did not believe their case was strong enough.

“This is one of those we’re going to have difficulty with because it’s what we would call – looking at it – a nice little building.

“But we’ve already been told it’s got no protection and it could be demolished tomorrow.

“I understand the local concern about losing what, on the front of it, is a very nice little old building and it’s got some history. But from what we’ve been told, there’s not very much we can do about it.”

Plans to demolish the old garage and replace it with a new one were granted conditional approval.

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