New guidance on how a derelict hotel site in a village near Ilfracombe should be redeveloped has been agreed.

North Devon Council’s strategy and resources committee adopted a design guide for the Lee Bay Hotel earlier this month, following a series of refused planning applications.

The guidance says any development should retain and convert the ‘historic core’ of the original hotel building for residential or commercial use, although a demolition of the later eastern extension would be supported.

If the existing hotel building provides space for more five or more homes, there will be a requirement for affordable properties, and any new builds should be affordable.

It also says no new homes should be located south of the watercourse, and any application should retain and upgrade the existing car park for tourism and community use.

While the design guide could not be considered as a formal supplementary planning document, the committee agreed that it should be used as a material planning consideration.

Cllr Paul Crabb, who represents the Ilfracombe East ward, said: “This site has remained a blot on the landscape for many years. I’m reassured that there seems to be some developer movement towards design elements that the community have been asking for. I hope this proposal can form the foundations of a scheme that is acceptable to the residents of Lee Bay, and Acorn Blue.”

The guidance was drawn up following a meeting in April 2019 which saw the council’s planning committee unanimously reject Acorn Blue’s bid to demolish the former hotel and build 21 homes, a cafe and a toilet block in its place.

It was the latest of several applications for the site, which has been derelict for some 15 years, of which none have been approved.

A report to the strategy and resources committee from lead officer planning policy, Andrew Austen, said: “The local planning authority and local community accept the principle of redeveloping this previously developed site which, over the years following its closure, has become an ‘eyesore’ within Lee village. However, it is considered that the acceptance of any redevelopment here should also be for the benefit of the local community.

“The design guide identifies the range of policy and legal constraints that affect this site, then assesses how best to address these issues and the key criteria that any future development proposal would need to meet, and against which the acceptability of any future proposal would be assessed.

“The design guide is not attempting to identify a single design solution for the site, nor to restrict unnecessarily the opportunities for redevelopment. It is not stopping innovative design solutions, but is identifying the design requirements that any future redevelopment scheme will need to satisfy. It attempts to guide development so that a design proposal will satisfy the range of landscape, heritage and legal constraints affecting redevelopment of this site.”