Bantham village sold: National Trust loses bid to buy picturesque stretch of Devon coastline

The charity said it was “extremely disappointed” by the decision

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The Independent Online

The National Trust has failed to buy a picturesque stretch of coastline in south Devon, sparking concerns about the future of the “magical” village of Bantham.

The beach in the village, nestling in the South Hams, has panoramic views over Bigbury Bay and Burgh Island.

A famous setting for Agatha Christie novels and TV adaptations, the 750-acre estate was secured for £11 million by an unidentified buyer.

The charity previously headed a £7million campaign to buy Bantham beach and the Avon estuary, to maintain the quality of the access to the village’s sandy beaches and protect the unspoilt landscape for nature.

If successful, it would have been the National Trust's most expensive coastal purchase.

But the agents acting on behalf of the estate have told the charity that its bid was unsuccessful.

Strutt and Parker partner James Baker told the Mail Online that a family with plans to maintain and preserve the landscape the same way its previous owners have done for nearly 100 years have secured the land.

Until now, the Evans family protected the unspoilt nature of the estuary and surrounding countryside, which is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and avoided inappropriate commercialisation of the beauty spot.

Mark Harold, South West regional director for the National Trust said the charity was “extremely disappointed” by the sale.

"We, along with many thousands of people who have contacted us over the past few weeks encouraging our involvement in its future, care very passionately about Bantham.

"We will of course continue to care and protect for ever and for everyone the 40 miles and 3,000 hectares of the South Devon coast we already care for.

"We would also want, if possible, to work with any future owners of Bantham Beach & Estuary and ensure that this beautiful location is continued to be enjoyed by the many thousands of people who have told us how much it means to them."

He added: "We would like to thank everyone for their support of our fundraising appeal. As a charity the Trust relies on the generous support of its supporters who help us care for some of the most beautiful and vulnerable stretches of coastal land in the country."

Estate manager Ryan Hooper said: "It's a massive leap for us because it ends the uncertainty and everyone will be relieved that something is finally being done.

"The fact that the estate is going to be kept together is fantastic news," he told BBC News.

Additional reporting by PA