Selfish millionaires are ruining our seaside town with monstrous new mansions… the view from my garden now is a joke | The Sun

LOCALS in Britain’s most expensive seaside town are locked in an extraordinary battle over who has the right to one of the country’s best coastal views.

Giant multi-million pound homes are being built across the town and snapped up as second homes by the mega-rich – as locals complain they are wiping out the sea views they once enjoyed.

Earlier this month plans to demolish a seven-bedroom house in Salcombe, Devon, and replace it with a larger five-floor home were refused.

South Hams District Council rejected the application, calling the proposal "too big" and arguing its "swathes of white render and glazing" did not reflect local materials. 

But owners Roger and Paula Guess, who bought the house for £3million in 2020, called the decision "unfair" and believe they would succeed on appeal.

For well-heeled locals living near Devon Road – dubbed Millionaire’s Row by travel writers – it is just the latest in a long-running series of tensions with developers pushing for larger homes.


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Retiree Maureen Preston's family bought their traditional bungalow in Salcombe in the 1930s but in the last two years a new house, with a larger footprint, has been built at the end of their garden, obscuring her stunning view across the estuary.

She told The Sun: "People just love it here and they move down, but then they want to change it.

“I like modern architecture, but in the right place, and much of what is now being built in Salcombe is not in-keeping.  

“I have met the new owners of one of the houses and they are lovely people and will, I am sure, be good neighbours, and I do not in any way blame them for buying this new property which will afford them stunning views, which once we had.

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Maureen says the asking price for her property will be affected due to the new house blocking the viewCredit: Apex
Locals on the road dubbed 'Millionaire's Row' don't want to lose their view of the estuaryCredit: Apex
Residents have complained about homeowners snapping homes only to tear them down to build a bigger oneCredit: Apex

“I know you cannot put a price on a view but it is likely that if we were to decide to sell our property, the asking price would, I suspect, be much lower than it would have been before it faced a grey and black block of new architecture.”

'Monstrous mansions'

Salcombe has been crowned Britain’s most expensive seaside town with properties selling for an average of £1.2million in 2022, according to Halifax.

The former fishing town – now famed for its hiking and watersports – overtook Sandbanks in Dorset, which was the priciest seaside spot in 2021.

Alan Plummer, a marine surveyor who has lived in Salcombe for 10 years, unsuccessfully fought for compensation with a developer after a new two-storey home was built next door to his, leaving his garden in perpetual shade for three months of the year.

I like modern architecture, but in the right place, and much of what is now being built in Salcombe is not in-keeping

After having his claim via the ombudsman rejected, he was told he must find £45,000 if he wanted to sue the developer.

He said: “Since lockdown there has been a huge increase in building, and we are being railroaded by the local council who love it because they get money from the developers.

“And while this is going on there is 24/7 building works every day. It’s constant noise.

“Salcombe is an astonishingly beautiful place but everybody wants a piece of it – developers from all over the country like the kudos building in Salcombe gives them.”

Another neighbour who didn’t want to be named said: "Over the time we have been here our view has been constantly chipped away at by these monstrous mansions.

"Everything just gets a bit higher and a bit bigger and they take a bit more of the view for themselves.

"The council tries to block it but owners just chuck cash at it and instruct their lawyers to keep going until the council can’t afford to fight it, then they get what they want."

Commenting on the latest planning application, local resident Liz Jackson said: "Many enjoy the current long, uninterrupted views across the estuary and beyond.

"There are not many viewing points left along Devon Road and this is one of the most spectacular ones. The proposed build will block the current views."

Garth Watkins, who owns land directly opposite the development, said: "We believe that the upper floor entry lobby and carport levels will have an adverse effect on the views of the estuary."

Councillor Mark Long added: "They are trying to increase the ability to have views across this stunning estuary for those who are going to occupy these houses.

"My concern is that everybody else has to look at them. Enough is enough."

'Constant noise'

Tony Goodhead, 81, who has lived in the seaside town for 38 years, blasted a surge in owners knocking down traditional homes and replacing them with larger American-style glass and render homes.

He said: "They are always knocking down homes and building these square boxes. It is constant noise when you are sat out in the garden.

"This development won’t affect our view but it will affect our neighbours and we have constant noise of trucks coming and going and construction already."

But local Derek Bosham, 56, is less scathing, believing the homes that replace the older properties are often more attractive.

“This isn’t a new thing, it’s been going on for 50 years," he said. "The locals who sold their homes for a huge profit are the ones now saying they don’t like what’s happening.

“The new houses are often a lot nicer than the ones that were there before.

"Maybe older people want an old-fashioned house but others don’t.

“Tourism is 99 per cent of Salcombe’s income – we should embrace people wanting to come here. People come on holiday here and spend £10,000 in a week. Residents spend nothing like that.”

Plans for the proposed new home on Devon Road show it would include a new swimming pool and games room, an upgraded version of the existing cantilevered viewing area and five bedrooms in the main house, with another above the garage.

Mrs Guess said they have been coming to Salcombe for years and plan to live in the home for their retirement.

She added: "The current property is constructed of poor quality, failing construction and hugely inefficient.

"What the property does have is great views and these are maximised in a new, energy-efficient linear design. 

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"We believe that the refusal of our application was a result of lobbied personal opinion, which is unfair, and not within the remit of a Planning Committee, as we understand it.

"We believe there are multiple reasons for a sound and hopefully successful appeal and we are currently taking advice in that respect.”

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