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Last railway building recommended for holiday units

Friday, 5 April 2024 07:25

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

The Bideford Railway Station building. (image courtesy of Torridge District Council)

Fears it will impact future rail link between Bideford and Barnstaple

A controversial plan to convert the last remaining building at Bideford Railway Station into holiday accommodation has been recommended for approval.

Opponents of the scheme by Richard Brend of Brend Hotels want the former waiting room to be retained and fear the conversion to three homes with patio areas on the platform will impact plans to reinstate a rail link from Bideford to Barnstaple.

Sixty-nine letters of objection were submitted to Torridge District Council against the plans, with nine in support.

Bideford Town Council has also raised opposition and said Torridge had committed to investigate funding a study into the benefits of reopening the line as an action in its new strategic plan.

But planning officers say the scheme should go ahead. More than half of the width of the platform on the eastern side would still be open for access and it would enable the railway line to be reinstated “should this be pursued”.

They continued: “There are no plans in place for the reinstatement of the railway and no policy requirement to safeguard the application site.”

They added there would be no impact on the Tarka Trail, which runs along the western platform, or the coastal path.

The former waiting room is not listed but has been on the list of Torridge’s locally important buildings for 14 years.

Officers said the public benefit in providing holiday accommodation in this location outweighed the harm to the building and conservation area. It is close to the Royal Hotel, which ls also owned by the Brend group.

The scheme includes a small museum in a telephone box that is being relocated from Torrington Street to the platform, and a toilet and mess area for the Bideford Heritage Centre.

Each holiday unit would have a parking space plus one extra to the south of the building and a bin and bike store.

The original application was for three open-market homes but was amended after concerns raised by conservation officers. Solar PV panels have been relocated to reduce their impact on views from the river.

Opponents said the site was being overdeveloped and should be used for a railway museum, that there is enough tourism accommodation in the area and the patio areas eroded the character and purpose of the old station, with railings that were out of keeping.

The application will be discussed by Torridge District Council’s plans committee at Bideford Town Hall on Thursday 11 April.

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