A campaign group has lost its fight to spare Britain’s last Admiralty Longboat House from being demolished to make way for a contemporary re-development along the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
Judge Birtles rejected a challenge at London’s High Court by Budleigh Longboat Association representative David Daniel to East Devon District Council’s approval of planning permission for the demolition and redevelopment of the Longboat café.
The ruling potentially clears the way for former Royal Marine and business owner Brent Hushon to carry out the redevelopment with a modern, two-storey, glass clad structure to take its place on the seafront.
The plans have a complex history. His first application in 2010 was approved but Mr Hushon was unable to implement the scheme because the council refused to relinquish the adjacent shelter.
The second smaller design was refused.
The decision to approve the third scheme is under scrutiny because the association submitted a string of issues to the judge, with the main thrust of their argument being that planning officers instructed members of the development management committee to “set aside” the previous decision to refuse an earlier scheme.
Then in May, Mr Hushon submitted a forth application which campaigners branded “almost identical” to the previous plans that were rejected.
This application was subsequently rejected in July and in October Mr Hushon lodged an appeal.
The judge rejected claims by the association that, in granting the scheme permission, the council had failed to properly take into account the earlier planning history and that the 2010 permission could not be fully implemented.
He ruled that there was no “error of law” and that the council had been given factually and legally correct advice in a report from a planning officer.
He said that he was told at the hearing last month that all pre-commencement conditions have now been discharged and that the 2010 permission has been implemented by construction work on the site.
Top officials at both Natural England and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Team have said the site should be protected as they claim it sits within a World Heritage Site and is within the Site of Special Scientific Interest and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
But district council planning officers have continued to dispute the environmental experts’ view.
The scheme has also come up against mass opposition in the town, with opponents believing the design of the restaurant to be out of keeping with its setting.
And Professor Mark Horton, who co-presents BBC’s Coast, a creator of Channel Four’s Time Team and professor of archaeology at Bristol University, recently heaped criticism on the project for the second time.
This summer he slammed the council for permitting the scheme in a World Heritage Site and English Heritage for failing to list the building “despite an overwhelming intellectual and historical case to do so”.