Don't miss a story sign up to the North Devon Gazette's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

Ilfracombe’s Joshua Tree Project takes on a hotel

PUBLISHED: 17:30 09 January 2018 | UPDATED: 07:52 11 January 2018

The Tree House Hotel in Fore Street is forging links with The Joshua Tree Project. Picture: Brett Bensley

The Tree House Hotel in Fore Street is forging links with The Joshua Tree Project. Picture: Brett Bensley

Brett Bensley

A planning application is bidding to turn a unused annex at The Tree House Hotel in Fore Street into supported living for young people with special needs

Some of the young students at the Joshua Tree Project. Picture: JTP Some of the young students at the Joshua Tree Project. Picture: JTP

A heart-warming project for young people with special needs is looking to add a new dimension after taking on an Ilfracombe hotel.

The Joshua Tree Project has taken on the lease of The Tree House Hotel and has just lodged a planning application seeking to turn its annex into sheltered accommodation for the young people it works with.

The community interest company, based at Mullacott, provides training for young people with learning difficulties and makes a variety of products from wooden furniture to personalised decorations and household accessories, often using recycled materials.

Now it has submitted a bid to turn part of the hotel in Fore Street into eight apartments that would supply supported housing for the young people and enable them to begin to make their own way in the world.

Josh Bensley, who inspired the Joshua Tree Project. Picture: JTP Josh Bensley, who inspired the Joshua Tree Project. Picture: JTP

The hotel would continue to take paying guests – half the existing 20 rooms have been refurbished to a high standard and it is hoped the remainder would act as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the transformation of the annex, with Joshua Tree clients able to work on their own homes.

Joshua Tree was set up three years ago by Lee and Louise Bensley, inspired by their son Josh.

His uncle Brett Bensley, a project ambassador, told the Gazette Josh left mainstream schooling at 18, but has complex special needs and the couple wanted to create a family-owned business he could work in.

Lee, a carpenter and joiner, took him to work with him and Brett said the transformation was amazing: “The first six months saw a massive upturn in his development, where he was starting to communicate, become more self-sufficient and his well-being was a lot better,” he said.

“Three years later we have 28 students working for us and the development we see in these guys and girls is phenomenal.

“Lee saw the hotel as the perfect opportunity for the Joshua Tree team to work on, to get it up and running.

“The students have told us the next big step for them is to make the break and move away from home.”

Brett said they hoped to start as soon as possible, subject to planning permission.

As a community interest company, which is on the verge of gaining charitable status, all money made is ploughed back into the business and there is growing interest in Joshua Tree products, with contracts in North Devon and as far afield as Glasgow University.

You can find out more about the project at

Other News Stories


Police called to ‘serious assault’ in Forches on Tuesday evening

Read more

There has been a rise of 38 per cent in reports of domestic abuse in North Devon over the last 12 months

Read more

The A399 at Watermouth will be closed for a maximum of five days while resurfacing is carried out

Read more

A Bratton Fleming man has been ordered to pay more than £3,000 after dumping builder’s waste off the A399.

Read more
Yesterday, 18:09

Barnstaple rush hour traffic could be slow after an accident was reported

Read more
Yesterday, 14:35

The Met Office has put out a weather warning for wind as strong gusts are expected to hit North Devon on Wednesday night.

Read more
Yesterday, 12:30

Hospital clinicians held an extraordinary meeting to support a motion of no confidence in Northern Devon Healthcare Trust’s medical director George Thomson.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:22

Last week the Gazette revealed plans to demolish Littlejohns Coalyard to build new houses - and it seems readers are not happy about it.

Read more
Yesterday, 08:00

North Devon branch of well-known cancer charity is seeking a volunteer willing to lead the local group

Read more
Yesterday, 06:48

Barnstaple TSB is highlighting the Take Five Fraud Awareness Week and trying to stop the scamsters in North Devon

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 6°C

min temp: 5°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Show Job Lists

Local business directory

North Devon's trusted business finder

Find planning applications