Arthur’s fantasy island wind-up

By John Ware   |   Reporter   |
Tuesday 5th April 2022 1:00 pm
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TEIGNMOUTH and its big neighbour Torquay were often at loggerheads in the 1970s.

Some feared the bigger resort was trying to take over part of the smaller town, and in retaliation one prominent Teignmouth councillor put forward a proposal to develop one of Torquay’s most prominent landmarks.

Arthur Bladon submitted a planning application to build a medieval style castle on Thatcher Rock, pictured right.

He claimed in 1974 that a consortium of developers was seriously interested in the scheme.

An article proclaimed: ‘He sees the castle as becoming one of the area’s major tourist attractions, with the building itself used as either a hotel or permanent flats.

An application for outline planning permission is now in the hands of Torbay County Borough.

In a letter which accompanied the planning application he stated: ‘I have been discussing new projects with developers in London and decided that a castle-like hotel or block of flats is in the spirit of their desires.

‘Thatcher Rock seemed to be ideal for this purpose.  I would be pleased to receive any advice your office can advance to help me in securing an early planning decision.

‘It would of course be rather an expensive project, but that need not be your worry.  For instance one may have to consider desalination of the seawater, but it is said nothing is is impossible’

Cllr Bladon stressed he was only acting as an agent for the project, but the developers must be serious to ask him to do it.

‘I believe it will be a terrific  tourist attraction.  After all Torbay does need a boost these days – it has slipped back into being a very everyday type of resort.

‘I believe there is a need to identify England as England to foreign tourists, especially Americans, which is why a castle like design was chosen.

‘I think it is a realistic scheme and with  help and guidance should eventually come about.

‘I believe Torbay corporation owns the rock, and if that is so they should be only too pleased to co-operate.  The design of the hotel would blend in with the environment so well that not even the most ardent conservationist could object.

‘Some people may think it is all a gimmick, but I can assure them the developers are extremely serious about it.  After all people scoffed when it was first announced that it was intended to turn the Queen Mary into a floating hotel’

Torbay Council is in fact the owner of the rock which was acquired from the Whidborne Estate a few years ago.

The town clerk Mr Womersley confirmed that a person does not need to own the land to seek planning permission for it.  Providing the applicant notifies the owners of the land of his intention, he can present an application for anything he likes to the local planning authority.

The application has been advertised by the council, and members of the public wishing to make representations can do so.

Of course it was all a wind up against big brother Torbay, but  many there took it seriously and were not amused when it eventually all been a big joke. Many in Teignmouth were not sure either whether it was all a spoof.

Cllr Bladon was quite a colourful  showman and the ruse brought quite a bit of publicity to his home town - the scheme was turned down.

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