The future of the South Hams…community or resort?

The South Hams in Devon is undoubtedly a very special place to live. I feel so incredibly lucky to have called it my home now for the last seven years, and indeed to be raising my family here.

Recently though, having observed so much change in the area, I’ve begun to wonder what the South Hams might be like in ten or twenty years time, in particular if the towns and villages will still be year round communities, or will the area simply amount to a collection of charming resorts.

These thoughts have been developing as I now consider my children’s futures, and I wonder what the South Hams might be like for them as a home when raising their own children. My decision to finally write on this subject came about following on from a conversation this week with a nice couple currently living in Bigbury-on-Sea. As we enjoyed the spectacular vista from their garden, which boasts uninterrupted views toward Burgh Island, they informed me they had actually sold the property to an investor from London. As the conversation continued I was saddened to learn that ten years ago, they enjoyed good relations with eight neighbours on their road, however once they leave there will be just two full-time residents remaining, and they were of the understanding one of these is also contemplating leaving. The properties it seems are now priced well out of the reach of local families, and are being snapped up as holiday let investments. Indeed this is something that has been going on for some time in the likes of Salcombe, Dartmouth and Hope Cove.

The evidence of even towns become unsustainable all year round was evident to me on a wet Friday afternoon while walking around doing a bit of shopping in Dartmouth for the first time in a while. I was surprised by the sheer number of businesses not open. This is likely to be repeated in Kingsbridge too with the more ‘useful’ shops already being replaced by seasonal ice cream parlours etc.

Now I’m absolutely for the South Hams playing to its strengths in terms of being a holiday destination, and exploiting the leisure opportunities afforded to it. However, I can’t help but feel that its towns and villages, particularly those located on the coast, are already without any real community behind them, indeed without intervention, parts of the South Hams could easily complete the transformation into resorts, and not be a viable place to live all year round.

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