Plans to convert Axminster country hotel into residential dwellings rejected

The Ridgeway Country Hotel in Axminster

The Ridgeway Country Hotel in Axminster - Credit: Google

Plans to convert an Axminster hotel into three residential dwellings has been rejected. 

Mr and Mrs Baulch had applied to East Devon District Council for permission to convert the Ridgeway Country Hotel, Smallridge, from part hotel and part pub into three residential dwellings and three double car ports with a home office above. 

The proposal was rejected by EDDC planners, under delegated powers, as there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to demonstrate the hotel is not currently viable and that the new residential units would be too far from local amenities. 

Planning officers also said the proposal would be out of keeping with the local area and would ‘adversely affect’ the nearby Grade II listed Chapel Cottage. 

In a design and access statement, the current owners said they have been trying to sell the site for many years without success and that the Covid-19 pandemic took its toll on takings. They said the prospect of taking on a business in the current climate is not appealing to anyone. 

The officers’ delegated report said: “The proposal would result in the permanent loss of the business from the village and the economic and community benefits associated with it.  

“It is recognised that that the applicants have sought to diversify the business offer during their long period of ownership in an attempt to maintain its viability, it is also noted that they have sought to sell the business as a going concern and have marketed it as such.  

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“However, the evidence presented of the marketing exercise undertaken falls short of that required by development plan policy. 

“In addition to the economic and social impacts arising from the scheme, the proposal would also result in some limited and localised environmental harm both through the nature of the changes to the main building; the inappropriate scale of development on the car park and the harmful impact on the setting of the adjoining listed building.” 

The main business of the Ridgeway Country Hotel, prior to Covid-19, was corporate guests Monday-Friday with many visiting Axminster Power Tools. 

The design and access statement said the current owners have tried to adapt the premises and the marketing of the property to retain it as a hotel and the property was listed for sale by the owners with a market price of £645,000. It has been advertised online channels since September 2019 and in that time only had three viewings.