Appledore dry dock plans dismissed at appeal

Joseph Bulmer

Secretary of State upholds decision to refuse large-scale redevelopment of Richmond Dock

TORRIDGE District Council has successfully defended an appeal against its refusal to allow the large-scale redevelopment of Appledore’s Richmond Dock.

Proposals for new apartments and community facilities, together with repair works to the Grade II star listed dock walls, gates and surrounding area, were dismissed by the Secretary of State earlier today (Friday).

In what is being hailed a “landmark case”, planning inspector Olivia Spencer concluded that the scheme proposed by businessman Simon Maunder would result in substantial harm to the special architectural and historic interest of the dock.

The inspector also said: “The proposed development would place severe constraints on opportunities for ship building and repair in the dry dock.”

An application submitted by the council for an award of costs against Mr Maunder was refused by the inspector.

Mr Maunder’s initial proposals for the site were first revealed by the Gazette in 2007. Permission for re-worked plans was refused by the district council in July last year.

Many people from Appledore came to give evidence at a three-day public inquiry, including representatives from community group CASH (Celebrating Appledore’s Shipping Heritage), who presented their own proposals for the reuse of the site.

The council said the decision provided substantial protection to the dock and was a landmark case of national significance, due to the weight the inspector gave to the importance of the dry dock’s use in the cultural heritage of Appledore.

Councillor Barry Parsons, leader of Torridge District Council, said: “I am thrilled with this decision, both for the local community and for the benchmark it sets for the importance of cultural heritage in the planning system.

“I am pleased that the community in Appledore were able to present how important they considered the dry dock to be in their community, and the Secretary of State took that on board in reaching his decision.”

Council chief executive, Nicola Bulbeck, said: “The council’s officers have worked hard to defend this appeal, working with outside bodies including English Heritage, to achieve what is best for the site.

“As a council we are keen to work with developers to promote economic growth in Torridge, however sometimes this needs to be weighed against the importance of protecting our historic assets.”

Cllr Andrew Eastman, ward member for Appledore, said: “I am really pleased that the historic importance of the dry dock has been recognised and the hard work of the council officers and CASH has paid off.

“I am proud to have been able to represent the views of the residents of Appledore at the public Inquiry.”

Fellow ward member Cllr Barry Edwards, added: “I am absolutely delighted with the decision, and I am certain that all of the residents of Appledore are thrilled too.”