South Hams Society BULLETIN
The views expressed in this Bulletin are those of the authors and are not necessarily to be taken as those
of the South Hams Society.
Notice of the Annual General Meeting on 27th March is appended; we hope you will attend what promises to
be an interesting evening. Apart from the standard agenda – annual accounts, chairman’s report and election of
officers – we have a talk by local historian, Jill Drysdale, with the intriguing title “Bodies on the Beach”.
I must record with regret the death of our treasurer, Michael Damon. After leaving the army following the
Second World War, Michael had a distinguished career in surveying. He served as a conscientious treasurer to the
Society for nineteen years. We extend our sympathy to his wife, Rita. His place has been taken by Barclay Best.
The past year has been a very satisfying one for the Society: your Committee has been active on all fronts and
whilst reduced in numbers has been vibrant, active and effective. The pressures for wind farms, telephone masts and
development generally has meant the planning team have worked flat out - visiting sites, examining plans and commenting
on over 100 applications - we think effectively. We have noticed a marked tendency for people (not only members
of the Society!) to approach us with their views - we have a higher profile than individuals - we can be more effective
and people listen to what we have to say.
On the social side we have held several interesting and satisfactory events - Riverford Farm, Sharpham
Vineyard and the Annual Cream Tea, which was attended by more than 100 people. Our social programme for the
coming year looks as if it is too good to miss - see below.
Our presentation “It Couldn’t Happen Here” has now been shown to more than half the surrounding towns
and villages and has been well received. Our bulletin makes regular appearances every 2-3 months. We are hoping
to have our own web site up and running by the time of the AGM.
I have pleasure in thanking the Committee for their energy, enthusiasm, intellect, and above all their pro-active
approach - thank you all very much. Finally, our committee is at present four members short of our constitutional eleven,
plus four officers. In particular we need a Secretary. We meet in the Kingsbridge Council Chamber, Quay House on the
first Monday of the month - please feel free to speak to one of us if you are interested in joining the team.
George Brownlee (01548 843384)
The Planning Dilemma
During the period December 2005 and December 2006 there were in excess of 2460 planning applications
submitted in the area of the South Hams. Whilst the large majority of these were not contentious some gave rise to
strong objection and debate within the community or neighbourhood concerned, conversely others would have
been applauded and non-controversial.
When considering the merits or otherwise of a particular application it is essential to bear in mind that the
Local Plans for areas as established and approved by the South Hams District Council are the first yardsticks within
which the application must comply, i.e. is it within a Conservation Area, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a
Coastal Preservation Area, a Development Policy Area, etc.
These policy documents are all contained within the published Local Plans and are readily accessible in the
South Hams District Council offices, Local Council offices and public libraries. If therefore it is intended to write
letters or register objections or support for any particular application it is wise to consult these documents before
formulating and expressing an opinion.
Ken Reed (01548 842392)
Switch off that light!
“Put that Light OUT!” says the Astronomer Royal, Professor Sir Martin Rees.
Yes, one of the great pleasures that we all can enjoy on the South Hams Coastal Path is the sky on a clear night
looking seawards. Not so good looking inland though as more blazing orange glow from urban lighting schemes messes up
our view of the heavens above. ‘Night blight’ is spreading its tentacles further and further across South Devon.
Light pollution not only destroys our view of starry skies but it harms our quality of life by robbing us of sleep
when excessive light shines into our homes. It has significant negative effects on wildlife, causing migrating birds to fly
into lighted buildings, a false dawn that disrupts bird behaviour, and the killing off of moths and insects attracted to
To meet the growing needs of social order and the growth of population, lighting in all its forms is a must for the
majority. Satellite pictures show that the night sky over England is more brightly lit than any other European country
with the exception of the Netherlands. Light pollution, albeit yet another down side of progress (ugh!) is here to stay
whether we like it or not. What we can usefully consider however, is how we might reduce the unnecessary wastage
of light and its associated energy (and all that goes with the generation of that energy), of illuminating the sky.
Badly designed street lights throw wasted light up into the sky, as do security systems that light up all types of
buildings and their surroundings, while floodlights and advertising signs illuminate shopping service areas, games
pitches, places of entertainment and other buildings. Some Highway Authorities (including Devon) and local councils
have been pioneering different lighting methods to reduce light pollution by replacing the older street lighting with
fittings that direct the light downwards. Also by using a brighter, clearer white light so fewer luminaires are required.
We can all take simple measures in our homes to ensure that our outside lights are not wasteful – we can use
a lower wattage bulb, angle the light downward, only switch on the light when needed and select a type of light that
is designed to minimise light pollution. These are simple actions that we, as individuals, can and should implement.
We are fortunate in the South Hams that if we look in the right direction we can still find some dark sky in
which to appreciate the Milky Way but we should ask ourselves how long this will last as the years go by. What a
sad legacy we leave to our children and grand children if our actions deprive them of the glory of the sky at night.
Pam Armitage (01548 842619)
Another Supermarket for Kingsbridge ?
The letter columns in the Gazette and other papers demonstrate just how effective supermarket advertising
and lobbying campaigns are. Supermarkets assert that they increase trade in towns, that they are concerned with
community issues and that they are of benefit to local shops and farmers markets. Common sense tells us that they
cannot be of benefit to businesses they are in direct competition with, and being national or international companies,
their allegiance is not to local communities. The facts drawn from numerous surveys including those of Government
Departments, the Office of Fair Trading, The Monopolies and Mergers Commission and the superstores own
research organisation, the National Planning Forum, tell us that our common sense is right and the advertising
campaigns pure sophistry.
Research shows that when a supermarket opens in town such as Kingsbridge trade in local shops within a 15
km radius falls by as much as 30% - as a consequence the numbers of small retailers have reduced by 20% in the last
ten years. It shows that for every large supermarket that opens 270 jobs are lost, many in the local retailing sector
and others in the small businesses, which supply them.
Experience tells us that supermarkets use their massive financial presence to manipulate the planning system in secret
meetings with councils to ensure that they obtain free car parking and easy road access while access to local shops is more
difficult and their customers must use costly public car parking. The latest planning application for a second supermarket in
Kingsbridge demonstrates these points. There have been private meetings between supermarkets and councils. The
planning application shows that shoppers must climb 30 steps to get access to Fore Street from the supermarket - even
supposing they can leave their car in the supermarket car park. whilst they shop in Fore St.
Research indicates that supermarkets increasingly buy from a small number of large suppliers, which means
that the goods on their shelves accumulate many food miles, and the atmosphere, more greenhouse gases. Where
smaller suppliers are used draconian conditions are imposed to ensure that the produce has qualities that most suit
the supermarket such as low cost, long shelf life, ease of handling (using excess packaging) and uniformity in appearance.
Either way all supplies are bought centrally and store managers are denied authority to buy locally even when local
foods are demonstrably of high quality such as here in the South Hams
Surveys have found that supermarkets are also expensive compared to local retailers and farmers markets;
their advertising and much-vaunted loss leaders are designed to deceive the public. Even their “charitable” gestures
are designed to have the maximum market impact at the minimum cost – it takes a million pounds of customer
spending to donate one football.
Common sense tells us that, despite appearances, everything the supermarkets do is intended to maximise
their own profits and increase their market dominance. Let us not delude ourselves - if we welcome a supermarket
in Kingsbridge it is for our own convenience, for easy car parking and one-stop shopping and we do it at the peril of
the local community and its businesses.
John Chalmers (01548 844174)
Now is the best time to see how farmers and other landowners care about wildlife and the looks of the
All the annual trimming has been done and new growth has not yet begun - so how the hedges now look is a
big giveaway to the owner’s attitude. If birds are to be cared for there must be some top growth left with berries to
give some extra food during late cold snaps. And they must be wide enough with sufficient height to provide shelter
and nesting opportunities. A good width and density is also necessary to provide corridors for small mammals - and
to house the insects and other small creatures that are food to some mammals and birds. And some taller hedges
provide windbreaks and shelter for bigger mammals such as deer - yes! they are around, I’ve seen them.
During the trimming were attempts made to leave some emerging top growth that might become new bushes
or trees? Or was everything cut to make dull uniformity? Do have a good look, wherever you travel, and form your
own opinion as to how those with the control over much of our landscape are exercising their power.
My own parish is East Portlemouth and I am appalled at how one farmer treats his historic Devon hedges. All
he has left is a few inches of stubble on the banks for mile after mile - as wildlife unfriendly as could possibly be and
a devastation of the landscape. But thankfully there are other nearby farmers who are far more sensitive and they tell
me they certainly do not approve of their neighbour.
What is happening in the parishes around you?
Martin Jarvis (01548 511411)
Masts prevail against local opinion
Common sense and local democracy have been the losers as well as ourselves in the fight against plans for a
3G mobile phone mast on top of the BT exchange in Kingsbridge’s Duncombe Street.
We have been campaigning against this particular site for nearly two years as it is close to two pre-schools and
hundreds of homes and businesses, and the long-term potential risk to human health is unknown. It is also in the
town’s conservation area.
We were heartened when South Hams district council supported us and overturned the planning officers’
recommendation to accept the mast. However the phone company 3 (part of Hutchison 3G) immediately appealed,
and in January this year the planning inspector ruled in its favour and against us.
He pointed out that even though the mast’s “beam of greatest intensity” would fall on the Treetops pre-school
and this would go against a recommendation in the Government-commissioned Stewart report, ministers had never
actually implemented this recommendation. Whatever happened to the precautionary principle?
A planning application for a second mast by O2 in Cookworthy Road is expected imminently at the time of
writing. The inspector had been informed of this, and one wonders why the appeal wasn’t halted, to look more
widely at the merits of other sites.
It doesn’t help that the Government sold the rights for the 3G technologies to the five mobile phone companies
for 22 billion pounds. Now of course they want their money’s worth, and applications for masts elsewhere in the
South Hams are coming in thick and fast. It seems almost impossible to have any say in where they are put - a sorry
state of affairs, in my opinion.
Denise O’Callaghan, chair of Kingsbridge Against Masts (01548 853192)
A Website for the South Hams Society – southhamssociety.org
We are developing a website for the South Hams Society illustrated by photographs of the area. Initially it will
· The objectives and activities of the Society,
· the officers and committee members together with their addresses, telephones and email addresses,
· an application form for joining the Society,
· parish contacts together with addresses, telephones and email addresses,
· the latest Bulletin illustrated in colour,
· a list of important planning applications with automatic links to the SHDC website containing the
application drawings and other information,
· a list of forthcoming events together with booking forms,
· a blog which all members can use to engage in topical discussion and inform the committee and other
members of their views.
The website would be set up from material supplied by the Society with local software developer, Adrian
Moore. Once set up it would be maintained by the Society. This basic website, once established, can be extended
to include other powerful features. These might include links to Google mapping and satellite imaging systems,
access to databases and logs of actions by the Society.
A website can provide significant benefits for the Society and all members are invited to contribute to its
John Chalmers (01548 844174) and Alan Stapleton (01548 857640)
I was down Fore Street back along last Tuesday and I seen Young Ferret.
“All right then?” I said.
“No I bloody aren’t,” he said.
“What’s up then?” I said.
“Why them next to me has sold their house to some developer and you know what that means,” he said.
“There will be a great block of flats or five or six holiday houses built, all looking like one of them resorts, worse than
“That’s all right,” I said, “it won’t trouble you.”
“Bloody will,” he said. “All they great huge cars coming and going all summer: and none of them as lives there
will want to have a chat with me or my old missus.”
“You’ll have to speak to them up Totnes,” I said.
“I tried that,” he said, “and they said I couldn’t stop progress. And at any rate there’s a president.”
“That’s a laugh,” I said. “I had much the same situation when they refused my plans to build a small extension
and they told me that ‘although what I wanted to do had a president up the road, every planning thing had to be
taken on its own merit’ they said. Well president or merit they can’t work it both ways!”
“I’ll remember that,” he said “but at least they will have to pay this here lump of money to the council to go for
affordable housing for the young uns.”
I laughed. “Like the last lot who built three houses where old Cribitt’s cow shed was and sold them for
£800,000 each and gave the council £12,000 all together.”
He couldn’t see what I thought was so funny.
John Cutler 01548 843001
Devon Road Developments
When we moved to Salcombe in 1996 all the houses around us had people living in them. Since then they
have all either been converted to flats, been demolished and rebuilt as flats or are now in the hands of developers
awaiting demolition and/or conversion to flats. Stoneycroft old peoples home became Blue Waters with five flats,
Folly Hill became Monkstone Point with eight? flats, Devon Tor hotel became Ocean Court with three flats. Torre
View hotel has permission for conversion to five flats. Overcombe has two alternative schemes seeking permission.
One is for a flat roofed five storey block of flats, the other to create two new entrances and build three houses.
Either scheme will impact on the landscape and the neighbouring properties and will remove street parking. Tumbly
Hill is believed to be being purchased by a developer. Further down a developer plans to demolish Four Winds and
build an ugly flat roofed modern pair of houses. Rumour has it that the vicarage may also be sold. Yet further down
Blue Haven with four apartments, an ugly block covering the full width of the site, Start House next to Newton Road
and Goodshelter by the yacht club steps both to be demolished and rebuilt. All three block out views of the estuary
and surrounding country and turn Devon Road into an urban street.
The area between Devon Road and the estuary is recognised in planning policy as being of importance to the
landscape as an area of large houses with mature terraced gardens. The character is supposed to be protected and
yet permission was granted on appeal to demolish Folly Hill. The same developer is now trying to demolish Overcombe.
If he succeeds with this application we can expect each of the remaining houses to be picked off one after another.
While Blue Waters and Ocean Court sit comfortably with the adjacent properties, Monkstone Point is an
overbearing pale blue weather-boarded building which is completely out of place. The block of flats proposed for
Overcombe looks like an urban multi-storey car park. It is sad that a Kingsbridge based architect, who you might
hope would have some affection for the local landscape, produced these designs. A Brixham based architect produced
the equally unsympathetic scheme for Four Winds.
Those of us who care about Salcombe and the South Hams need to keep pressure on SHDC to refuse
permission for schemes that are unsympathetic to the area by removing perfectly sound older houses, by increasing
density, or by conflicting with the surroundings.
We now spend more and more of our time at a cottage on Dartmoor because we are so fed up with the noise,
dust and traffic associated with these developments and we are dismayed that the whole character of Salcombe is
Social events for 2007
Tuesday 17 April. We have a visit to Avon Oyster Farm followed by lunch at the Oyster Shack.
The Oyster Farm, owned by Peter and Richard Marsh, is on the foreshore of the river Avon near Bantham.
We will visit the Oyster beds and the Depuration Unit where the Oysters are cleaned ready for distribution, then
have lunch at the Oyster Shack. The visit starts at 11 am from the car park of the Oyster Shack. We plan to be back
at the Oyster Shack for 1pm for a set lunch of - oysters - prepared in different ways, followed by the main course
of fish of the day. Cost £20. Wine, puds, coffee etc can be ordered as extras. You will have the opportunity to buy
oysters at the end of the visit. As we have to cross private land to reach the Oyster farm places are limited to 30, so
tickets will be allocated on a first come basis. The booking form is below, but please phone before sending your
Saturday14 July: we have a visit to Andrews Wood led by Gordon Waterhouse. We meet at 1030 at the
car park with a picnic lunch. We will look at birds and butterflies, grasses and the rare Heath Lobelia, then record
our findings, finishing at about 3.30. There is no limit on numbers but it would be helpful to know roughly how many
people plan to be there.
Yet to be finalised:
September. Visit to the Buckfastleigh Steam Railway Workshops
November. Dinner at the Cottage Hotel
December. Christmas lunch at Riverford Organic Farm
For more information contact Vivien Napper 01548 842405 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
for the South Hams Society visit to the Avon Oyster Farm followed by lunch at the Oyster Shack
Please telephone Vivien Napper first to check ticket availability on 01548 842405
Name(s) and address ………………………………………………………………..
Please send me ……. tickets for the South Hams Society’s visit to Avon Oyster Farm and lunch at the Oyster
Shack. I enclose a cheque for £20.00 for each ticket.
Please return form and cheque to Mrs V Napper, Rathlyn, Grenville Road, Salcombe, Devon, TQ8 8BJ or
email to email@example.com