A JUDICIAL review is being sought of Exmoor National Park Authority’s (ENPA) decision to approve a controversial planning application next to the South West Coast Path, near Porlock.

Hundreds of people opposed plans by Exmoor architect Ivo Carew to knock down the derelict wooden Hurlstone Bungalow, in Bossington, and replace it with a larger, eco-bungalow.

Objectors even included the park authority’s future landscapes officer, while the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), the National Trust, the South West Coast Path Association, and Exmoor Natural History Society all voiced their concerns.

A public meeting was held in Porlock for residents to hear about the plans and express their views, and when park authority members and officers made a site visit it turned into a mass protest as people turned up to demonstrate and make their feelings known with placards.

How the proposed new Hurlstone Bungalow eco home wold look.
How the proposed new Hurlstone Bungalow eco home would look. (Ivo Carter Achitects)

Residents saw it as a significant overdevelopment of ‘a uniquely sensitive site’ in an area of ‘fragile beauty’.

ENPA planning officer Joe White recommended refusal because the proposed replacement was substantially longer and higher than the original building, but committee members dismissed the opposition and voted by 10 to five to approve.

Now, CPRE Somerset has issued a pre-action judicial review letter to the ENPA in a bid to protect the character and appearance of the coastal path, which is used by walkers who value its typically remote and tranquil character and appearance, including a beautiful section above Bossington.

CPRE Somerset chairman Hugh Williams said Hurlstone Bungalow was a modest wooden workman’s bungalow dating from the 1920s which occupied a thin strip of land adjacent to the path.

It was last occupied in 2016 but had not technically been abandoned, while two other similar small buildings at the location were abandoned many years ago.

Mr Williams said London-based architect Mr Carew acquired the bungalow and applied to build a substantially longer and higher house as a replacement dwelling with a stepped roof.

He said: “If this decision is not challenged, our concern is that a dangerous precedent would be set in the national park.

Protest messages on display in Bossington as residents attended a mass demonstration against plans to replace Hurlstone Bungalow.
Protest messages on display in Bossington as residents attended a mass demonstration against plans to replace Hurlstone Bungalow. ( )

“One of our proposed grounds of challenge is that the measurements of the replacement house cannot rationally be described as reflecting, or being similar to, the mass and scale of the original dwelling.”

Mr Williams said authority members had not fully considered their replacement buildings policy, which stated replacements should be of ‘similar scale and massing’ to the original.

He said: “We want to show our support for local residents who are trying their best to protect the unique qualities of the coastal path from inappropriate development, which is why we have initiated proceedings for judicial review.

“We are grateful that substantial donations are being made by local residents toward our costs.”

The CPRE pre-action letter was served on authority chief executive Sarah Bryan by solicitor Tim Taylor, of Khift Ltd.

The ENPA was asked by the Free Press for a response to the action but said it was ‘not in a position to comment at present’.