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Damien Hirst withdraws from eco-town plans

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Artist Damien Hirst, whose Newport Street Gallery won last year’s RIBA Stirling Prize, has pulled out from approved plans to build 750 homes outside Ilfracombe in North Devon

The plans drawn up by MRJ Rundell + Associates for Hirst, who owns 40 per cent of the development land, were granted outline approval by North Devon Council in July 2014.

However, Hirst’s company Resign has withdrawn from the 75ha project – known as the Southern Extension – and the scheme is now being led by Inox Property Group.

Inox has amended the planning application, with changes to the mix of land use and phasing across the site, which includes 750 homes, commercial units, a primary school, health centre, and open spaces for the local community.

A new application has also been submitted for playing fields on land next to the Southern Extension site.

Local independent councillor Mike Edmunds said: ‘Damien Hirst and his team from Resign should be thanked for all the hard work that they have done to take this application forward.

‘I am delighted that Inox – a company with a proven track record – have agreed to take on the first phase of the Southern Extension which includes the primary school and sports pitches.’

According to The North Devon Journal, residents fiercely debated the plans before the council approved them in 2014. Resident Peter Cresswell told councillors: ‘You build new houses, you provide jobs. Here we have a situation with an employment black spot. That’s not sustainable, it’s disgraceful.’

Councillors will now consult on Inox Property Group’s amended plans. 

Hirst is best known for a series of artworks in which he preserved dead animals, sometimes dissected, in formaldehyde. The most successful of these was The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a 4.3m-long tiger shark immersed in formaldehyde in a clear display case.

Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery, which was designed by Caruso St John Architects to exhibit pieces from his personal collection, won the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize.

The judges described the gallery, a conversion of three Victorian buildings formerly used as scenery-building workshops for West End theatres, as ‘a bold and confident contribution to UK architecture’.

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Good to see North Devon get a mention in the AJ. This is a vast project by local standards and could be a great thing for Ilfracombe, which for generations has been the poor cousin of more prosperous local towns like Barnstaple despite its beautiful coastal setting. Ilfracombe needs investment but it also needs a branding shift - it is known as 'Ilfragloom'; and 'Livercombe' and 'Ilfrapool' locally - an outdated reference to the 1980's influx of council tenants from the Liverpool area. Any new, truly sustainable homes, with the right infrastructure improvements and increased public transport capacity etc. could be beneficial if done right and help change the towns perspective from elsewhere which in turn cold help make the refurbishment or the many dilapidated Victorian town house and hotels more viable and an attractive prospect to developers.

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