Bid to turn historic cliff-top World War Two observation post into holiday home approved

Plans to turn an historic World War Two landmark on the East Devon coast into a holiday home have been given the go-ahead.

Cliff-top Brandy Head Observation Post, near Otterton, can become a two-bed let for visitors after proposals were approved by East Devon District Council (EDDC).

Used by the RAF during the conflict, the 79-year-old property has become a popular stop-off point for walkers on the South West Coastal Footpath.

Brandy Head Observation Post Otterton Budleigh Salterton Ladram Bay World War Two

Proposals for the site describe the current building as ‘obsolete and redundant’.

The now ‘obsolete and redundant’ structure’s roof will be reconstructed and rooflights, solar panels, doors and windows installed as part of the project.

The premises is the only building on the coast path between Budleigh Salterton and Ladram Bay and boasts stunning views of the sea and countryside.

Granting planning permission under delegated powers, and EDDC officer said: “At the heart of this application there is a fundamental question about whether or not it is appropriate to introduce holiday accommodation into a tranquil and highly-protected setting which people enjoy because of its isolation and natural beauty.

“While it is clear that the proposal would result in some change, it is concluded that it is a level of change which can be accommodated without undermining the special qualities of the site or diminishing its appeal to residents and visitors to the area.

“Analysis of the proposal indicates that it would have acceptable impacts on the building, having regard to its historic interest, and on the surrounding landscape, having regard to its protected status.

“However, there would be some loss of peace and tranquillity associated with the new use of the building which would be unavoidable.

“In mitigation, there would still be opportunities for walkers and holidaymakers to use the building at the same time without conflict and in that sense the proposal is welcomed.

“Moreover, the economic benefits of the proposal should not be overlooked, nor the benefits associated with conserving a building of historic interest that would otherwise be likely to deteriorate further.”

An artist’s impression of the proposed holiday let contained within the application.

EDDC received 33 letters of objection to the scheme and three of support.

Applicant Mr Sam Walker is tenant farmer at nearby Stantyway Farm and the plan has been backed by landowner Clinton Devon Estates.

The Brandy Head Observation Post was opened in July 1940 and an information board at the site details its history.

The area had a history of weapons testing and development and formed an important part of the role the RAF played in World War Two.

The Gunnery Research Unit based out of Exeter tested turret-mounted guns and wing and nose-mounted cannons.

Targets were based out in the bay and period aircraft including Spitfires flew from Exeter over East Budleigh to test their weapons on the range.

Later, targets were developed and placed in the fields behind. The building was occupied by a team who then observed the testing on the targets.

The building became ‘obsolete and redundant’ after the war, according to the application, which added: “It still forms a landmark on the coastline and has become an unofficial stopping point for users of the South West Coastal Footpath.”

As part of the scheme, the holiday accommodation will still offer walkers a form of shelter, seating and a place to rest, and information about the building’s significance.

Devon County Council archaeologists said the experimental work done on aircraft-mounted weaponry and on gyroscopic gunsights ‘played a significant role in the British war effort’.

The experts added that the building ‘is a regionally rare example of its type’, but they welcomed ‘a positive reuse for the site’.

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