New row over Grand Designs’ ’saddest ever’ house could see coastal view ruined

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It's the Grand Designs' property which has gained notoriety for its delays and problems which cost its owner his marriage.

But even now, with the property finally on the market, it seems that Chesil Cliff House is determined to give owner Edward Short one last headache.

And that's because a row has blown up over lighting of the property on the North Devon Coast and fears of how light spill may affect an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

To counter those fears Mr Short is installing electric blinds on the upper windows of his £10 million home which will activate every time the property’s mains lighting is switched on.

It means that breathtaking sea views from the top floor of the clifftop mansion will be restricted at night and is the latest in long line of problems to hit the project which cost Mr Short his marriage.

Locals had already branded Mr Short’s unfinished house in Croyde Bay, north Devon, an “eyesore”.

READ MORE: 'Saddest Grand Designs' owner says he thought he 'should be dead' as he shares dark past

Now finished and on the market for a cool £10 million, the latest row over lighting came after Mr Short applied to revise part of the original planning permission by removing the need to sandblast the windows above the first floor.

The process of sandblasting involves firing fine sand at the glass in order to create a translucent, cloudy appearance to the surface of the glass.

While the process would have helped “minimise any visual impact on the sensitive landscape setting of the site through light spill”, it would have meant that the amazing views from the upper floors would have been permanently obscured.

Mr Short instead applied to the council to install an electric blind system.

The application, which was submitted at the start of the year, sparked concerns from the local parish council and North Devon AONB.

Braunton Parish Council said that it felt obscuring the glass by sandblasting would be “a more permanent and sustainable solution to minimise any visual impact on the sensitive landscape through light spill”.

Objecting to the planning permission change, the North Devon AONB Service said that Chesil Cliff House “is a very noticeable feature in views along the coast and from the sea back towards the AONB.”

It said: “There is [no] doubt that the new Chesil Cliff building has had a marked effect on the AONB landscape during the day and due to the amount of glazing, with the potential for significant light spill at night, has the capability of affecting the AONB landscape at night.

“Therefore, every effort should be made to try to reduce this and not rely on automatic blinds alone”.

Love Braunton urged the council to refuse the application until “all possible mitigation options have been explored”.

But a lighting report carried out on the property concluded that the use of sandblasted glass had the potential to “negatively” affect “the characteristic of the seascape at times of darkness”.

And 3D modelling carried out by the lighting firm showed that sandblasting would make the windows more prominent rather than less as they will become light transmitters.

In response to the concerns raised, Mr Short, said: “The planning condition, as written, requires the windows above first floor to be sand blasted in appearance.

“This does not restrict the amount or type of lights in the building and if taken to the extreme disco lights could be installed in all the rooms and this would still be seen through the sandblasted finish.

“At the end of the day we are not looking to remove the condition and any control of the light spill, we are nearly seeking an amendment to correct the incorrectly written condition, why when you have a dwelling in this location would you agree to permanently obscuring the amazing views from the upper floors.”

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The application was approved by North Devon Council on August 19 after a planning officer decided that the removal of sandblasting would “likely both conserve and enhance the special quality of the AONB and respect the qualities and characteristics of the seascape character linked to the AONB.”


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