Sidmouth's Coastlands saved!

A SIDMOUTH couple have bought Coastlands, saving the controversial building from demolition.

A SIDMOUTH couple have bought Coastlands, saving the controversial building from demolition.

Helen and Mark Waters are set to exchange contracts on the derelict Salcombe Cliffs site today, and have vowed to restore the former home of Sidmouth's chief coastguard to its "former glory."

The contentious Victorian building in Laskeys Lane was destined to be demolished after a bid to replace it with a block of flats was given the go-ahead by local authority planning chiefs in 2005.

Despite public uproar, permission was granted to build five flats on the site, but a subsequent application for eight flats was refused by East Devon District Council.

In a remarkable turnaround, the historic house, set in nearly an acre of land, is now set to become a family home to local businesswoman and personal trainer Helen Waters, 47, her marketing manager husband Mark, 49 and their two sons.

"We are so excited about it," said Sidmothian Helen, who hopes her parents will also live in the property. "It needs a lot of restoring but we're doing it and not pulling it down.

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"We are not a property developer, we just love the site, would love to restore it, and would love to stay in Sidmouth.

"I was brought up here, my parents were local teachers and we have a lot of respect for the town. We've been after it (Coastlands) for nearly a year. I want to have it as a home for my family and extended family and keep it as it is."

Helen said she is "astounded" Sidmouth town council planning committee members didn't back the couple's plans for Coastlands at a meeting last Wednesday (SEE STORY ON P.??).

Members did not support a planning application to build a conservatory and single storey extension at Coastlands, remove its chimney and alter access to the site. EDDC will make a final decision on the bid.

Helen said: "I can't believe the town council aren't supporting us when they didn't support the development of the site. All we want to do is restore the property.

"We bought it with existing planning permission and we can pull it down and develop but we don't want to, we want to live in it ourselves.

"The property is in a huge state of disrepair, the roof is caving in. Work needs to start soon or it will be a nightmare to restore even though the building is structurally secure.

"If the market recovers a developer will step in and turn it into flats.