Locals fury after planning permission granted for modern block of holiday homes at 'Agatha Christie Mile' - the writer's favourite beach

Developers have been given the green light to build a modern block of huts at Beacon Cove in Devon.

Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie

At the age of 13 Christie almost drowned at the Torquay beauty spot while trying to help a nephew and had to be rescued by a passing boatman.

The Pebble beach was a favourite of best-selling author and in Christie's day it was the Ladies Bathing Cove.

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It remained popular until an ugly walled walkway was built in the 80s.

Locals have objected to the plans

But soon after the area slipped into misuse and became an out-of-hours party area, a far cry from its idyllic heyday when it was a popular and crowded bathing spot.

In the last few years campaigners used people power to reclaim the beach.

Graham Stephenson and Jim Cairns previously raised money to gate it off at night and make it a safe space again.

But now Hertfordshire-based Hemel Hempstead Property Company developers have been given the go-ahead for the modern block of huts on privately-owned land half way up the cliff.

They say they would be used as holiday homes only and any single user would only be able to stay for a maximum of 12 weeks a year. They would be available year-round.

The news has sparked backlash online.

One person said: "Firstly, are you telling me there are not enough places for people to stay in the area?

"Or is this for a few wealthy folk to buy up a prime seaside location?

"Either way it stinks.

"If you see the chaos boats and jet skis have caused in Babbacombe Bay over the years, this cove will go the same.

"Is it really worth it for five new builds? I think not. Leave the cove alone..."

Another person commented: "I strongly object.

"Will impact on local environment and sea with rubbish and strongly object to overnight accommodation, as soon there will be the Hilton and Premier Inn locally opening, it's a very small cove.

"If the old Living Coast land developed, the cove will naturally be used more. Does the Council guarantee 24 hour open access or will it become a privileged few?"

A third said: "Why oh why are you contemplating yet another disruption to a little cove and the disastrous building processes it will involve?

"Do not allow this building and destruction of this peaceful area.

"There is enough building being squeezed in all over the place - purely for a few to make 'loads a money.'

"Protect the cove from exploitation for goodness sake."

Neil Garrick-Maidment, Founder of the Seahorse Trust, said: "As a native of Torbay form a long standing Torbay family I find it frustrating that the site is restricted already and the thought of further restrictions would be unacceptable.

"I note the builders of the proposed development are not from the area and so they cannot be aware of the sensitivities of this site and its history.

"With this lack of knowledge they would not be aware of its conservation, geological and indeed social history."

And Mr Stephenson, the man behind the campaign to reclaim the beach has written an angry letter to the leaders of Torbay Council in disagreement to the proposal.

He expressed his anger at how their "hard work" with the council in bringing the cove "back to life" was in danger of being wasted.

Describing Agatha Christie's childhood memories of Beacon Cove, an official website dedicated to her memory reads: "Agatha enjoyed sea bathing, and regularly swam at Beacon Cove, Meadfoot Beach and Elberry Cove.

"She recalls in her autobiography an afternoon at Beacon Cove when she was swimming out to the raft with her nephew Jack on her shoulders.

"She found herself struggling in the swell and they both had to be rescued by the ‘crotchety’ old man who managed the changing huts."