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Torquay hotel could be knocked down to build flats

Seabury Hotel in Torquay - before and after (Image courtesy Empery And Co/Torbay Council)

But council officers say the plan should be rejected

A plan to knock down a hotel which was once one of the original Victorian villas of St Marychurch in Torquay comes before Torbay planners next week.

And despite developers saying the project will provide high-quality and much-needed housing, Torbay Council’s planning committee is being recommended to turn it down.

Applicants 8 Tech Homes of Exeter want to build 14 residential apartments on the site of the former Seabury Hotel in Manor Road. The property is an unlisted villa which dates from the middle of the nineteenth century but has had a number of more recent extensions.

The hotel has been closed since the pandemic.

A proposal for 12 residential units that incorporated the original building was approved in March 2022, but proved not to be viable because the core building would have needed so much reconstruction.

An alternative scheme was submitted to demolish the hotel and replace it with a new building, but that was withdrawn in October 2022, partly due to concerns from Historic England over the loss of the original building and the scale and mass of the replacement.

Now the proposal has been revised, with the number of apartments cut from 21 to 14, a reduction in height across the site and an amended design to reflect the detailing of the existing villa.

The Torbay Neighbourhood Forum supports the development, but Historic England says knocking down the hotel would harm the St Marychurch Conservation Area. The organisation says: “It is one of the Victorian villas laid out in spacious grounds that are fundamental to the character of the conservation area, even when degraded by inappropriate extensions.”

Officers say the application should be refused because it would harm a designated heritage asset, and they also have concerns over traffic and the potential of flooding.

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