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Going, going, almost gone – 'bargain' house at Babbacombe falling into the sea

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 20, 2013

  • Ridgemont House, Torquay, looked like a bargain (right) when it was bought at auction for £155,000. But a landslide hit it just a week after it was sold, and it has been falling down ever since

  • Ridgemont House, Redcliffe Road, St Mary Church, Torquay, is collapsing under its own weight as the land beneath it falls away. The owner bought it unseen for £155,000 – now it is worthless

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A cliff-top country pile is fast becoming a costly pile of rubble as landslides send it crashing towards the beach below.

The controversial property, which was bought unseen for nearly £155,000, appears to have been sliced in two by the latest in a series of devastating seismic shifts.

Ridgemont House, at the top of Oddicombe Cliffs in Torquay, is now very close to the cliff edge and is expected to collapse at any moment.

Council officials have warned the public to steer clear of the dangerous site and beach at Little Oddicombe, which has been closed for years.

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A spokesman for Torbay council said the house was "in a dangerous condition".

"Parts of the boundary wall are now very close to the cliff edge at Little Oddicombe," the spokesman said.

"As further rock falls occur, we anticipate that the building will suffer further collapse."

The now practically worthless property hit headlines in 2010 when a landslide hit it just a week after it was sold at auction to retired police officer Sue Diamond for £155,000.

Legal disputes are still thought to be ongoing and the house is fenced off.

Miss Diamond who is disabled, made a telephone bid of £154,500 for the house in February 2010, without viewing it or having a survey done.

But just eight days after the auction, a landslide left the 1930s house just 50 yards from a drop into the sea, and signalled the started of a lengthy legal battle.

At the time Miss Diamond said the house was uninhabitable and worth only £3,500. Now it is on the verge of total obliteration after the most recent landslide caused a large portion of it to collapse.

Since the sale Miss Diamond has been engaged in a legal war.

Explaining her decision to buy the house in Torquay at the time, she said her Chiswick home in London had been flooded by burst pipes and she thought the ground floor of the seaside property would be ideal for a disabled person. The large six-bedroom property was sold for the bargain price because of its precarious position.

But just days later neighbours heard a "rumbling" noise before the unstable sandstone cliffs crumbled, sending more than 5,000 tonnes of rock at the bottom of the garden down to the beach below.

Minor landslips over the Christmas period weakened the structure further but a bigger slide on Sunday left it in a precarious position.

A geological survey has been undertaken, indicating that fresh landslides were imminent.

The council said the threat of further landslides remains high.

"We once again reiterate for members of the public to heed the various warning signs for their own safety," the spokesman added.

Read more from Torquay Herald Express

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2 comments

  • Bleach  |  February 21 2013, 8:59AM

    And your pictures are at least a week out of date.

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  • Bleach  |  February 21 2013, 8:58AM

    This is a sloppy and inaccurate piece of reporting. Please do your readership the courtesy of at least looking at the thing you're reporting on. "A cliff-top country pile is fast becoming a costly pile of rubble as landslides send it crashing towards the beach below" It's not in the country, it's a suburban building. It will never fall into the sea, it's too far away. It will fall off the cliff edge where the main collapse is occuring but that's further inland. "Council officials have warned the public to steer clear of the dangerous site and beach at Little Oddicombe, which has been closed for years" The beach hasn't been closed, a section at one end has been cordoned off but the beach remains open. "Parts of the boundary wall are now very close to the cliff edge at Little Oddicombe," the spokesman said." Most of the wall has already fallen over the edge. "Minor landslips over the Christmas period weakened the structure further" There was nothing minor about falls over the Christmas period. Thousands of tons fell off, 15-20 metres of 150- foot high cliff have been lost from the house grounds, at least one neighbouring garden is now at serious risk.

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