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Retired police officer Sue Diamond facing financial ruin as Torquay home teeters on cliff edge

By This is SouthDevon  |  Posted: October 25, 2012

  • Babbacombe Landslide. Ridgmont House perched high on the cliffs at Babbacombe

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A LONG-RUNNING legal battle over a Torquay house left teetering on a cliff edge after a landslide has taken a new twist.

Now the retired police officer who bought Ridgmont House in 2010 says she is facing financial ruin.

Sue Diamond made a telephone bid of £154,500 for the house high on the cliffs above Oddicombe beach in February 2010, without viewing it or having a survey done.

But just eight days after the auction, a landslide sent tons of rock cascading onto the beach below and left the 1930s house just 50 yards from a drop into the sea.

Miss Diamond says the house is uninhabitable and worth only £3,500, and has been engaged in a legal battle with the builder who sold it to her, Matthew Taylor.

He in turn has been living in a caravan while the dispute has dragged on.

The auction particulars warned buyers that the six-bedroom house was severely structurally damaged and might be beyond economic repair, and a judge in 2010 ordered Miss Diamond to pay Mr Taylor what she owed.

Mr Taylor has a legal charge for the money, plus eight per cent interest annually, over Miss Diamond’s home in West London, which she says is worth more than £1million.

In December last year Miss Diamond was evicted from her home so it could be sold and Mr Taylor could be paid.

However, London’s High Court heard that she later went back there despite what she described as its ‘uninhabitable state’.

In March this year a judge gave Mr Taylor permission to market the London property for £650,000 – but that brought protests from Miss Diamond who said that was only half its true value.

Now Mr Justice Norris has given Miss Diamond the chance to get a better price for her home after she produced letters from estate agents saying £1.1million was ‘easily achievable’.

Miss Diamond, the judge said, suffered from dyslexia, impaired hearing and restricted mobility.

Explaining her decision to buy the house in Torquay, she said her Chiswick home had been flooded by burst pipes and she thought the ground floor of the seaside property would be ideal for a disabled person.

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  • ClaraClare  |  July 01 2013, 10:36PM

    I remember sitting in a Hotel dining room at breakfast in the 1980's looking across from the Babacombe Downs at this gorgeous house , at the time it had an amazing large garden and looked absolutely stunning, the mist was gently clearing upwards from the garden. I remember thinking id love to own this house (which we now know as Ridgemount House) - Very sad indeed - Allegedly before all its problems transpired it was worth 1.5 million. The swimming pool has even gone over the cliff - The Owner of Tate and Lyle had this house built as a retirement home in the 1930's for himself Read more: http://tinyurl.com/q3f9sn8 Follow us: @thisissdevon on Twitter | ThisisSDevon on Facebook

  • Incredulous2  |  October 24 2012, 5:16PM

    Has Miss Diamonds dyslexia developed since she left the Police. If this is such a 'disability' (well, the judge seems to think it has an effect), and if it impacts on her everyday life, surely it would have impacted on her ability to carry out the role of a police officer - or even her ability to join the police force. Or is it just a case that it is a very minor form of the condition that is being trotted out as an excuse. If that is the case, it is callous and cynical.......

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  • robocop1982  |  October 24 2012, 4:36PM

    IT seems like when bad things happen money takes priority over human life importance. It's disgusting how money and legal power today takes priority over the importance of human existance. Lets not get carried away over a building. Another could easily be built and these houses are made from such little amounts of building materials anyway. IT just seems so horrible the way when people experience misfortune that they are always screwed over money matters. Such corruption rules the world. A very sad time for humanity to exist

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  • Bleach  |  October 24 2012, 1:20PM

    To be clear, the subsidence problems have nothing to do with what's going on at the cliff edge. The house sits over sandstone with limestone pillars embedded and it's movement in these pillars that are causing the problem. the cliff edge is just natural fall at a steep cliff face of soft sandstone. Neighbouring Redcliff House also had problems caused by the same thing and is even further from the edge. Redcliff house is stable now following the construction of a large criblock along the bounding bank but it can no longer be insured against subsidence. Closer to the cliff edge but to one side are the last couple of houses at the end of Redcliff road on the eastern side. One of the owners has stolen land and extended its garden over what used to be the SW coastal path. They've also taken down trees that were on the edge there to improve their view, not something I would do to a cliff edge if my house was near it. These houses, and probably the coach house adjacent to Ridgmont House would also, almost certainly, be un-insurable given their proximity to affected properties. The Ridgmont House is a lot further back from the cliff edge than many people realise.

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  • ineedtherapy  |  October 24 2012, 12:36PM

    Hang on If the judge was prepared to let Mr Taylor flog the house for 650k then the maximum mortgage on the property would be 515K....the remaining balance giving Mr Taylor the money he is owed So....1.1 million less 650k leaves Ms diamond with a clear 450K and no mortgage... Please can I have 450K...i'd love to be financially ruined like that....

  • SidneyNuff  |  October 24 2012, 12:25PM

    Sounds like a Police Officer, doesn't go to the scene, just one phone call to make sure everyting is alright.

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  • spindleshanks  |  October 24 2012, 12:24PM

    No doubt she will go on to claim that her dyslexia, impaired hearing and restricted mobility has something to do with the purchase price she paid for the property. Anyone who looked at this property before the auction and saw what was on Torbay Council's planning department website regarding the site would have known exactly what they were buying. Surely the clue was in the purchase price? Sue Diamond - apparently the seller has rightly done just that.

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  • Bleach  |  October 24 2012, 11:41AM

    The house was uninhabitable before the cliff fall, the cliff edge is a long, long way from the house itself and the house's problems have nothing at all to do with cliff falls. The building has been previously condemned and a large insurance payout made to a previous owner following subsidence problems. A visitor to the house, well before the time of the auction and well before the cliff fall, would have seen a crack big enough to get your fist through running right the way down the front of the house from the eaves to the floor and continuing along the patio to the rear of the house. Only a fool would have purchased such a property. Only a fool would have purchased *any* house without a survey. This is a greedy and stupid woman who's reluctant to face the consequences of here very foolish actions. I have no sympathy.

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  • ziggyblue  |  October 24 2012, 11:28AM

    No sympathy for the woman it has been sliding down the cliff for years. If she is a retired Police Officer you would think she would have had the ***** to make some enquiries before buying it.

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  • SmartyC  |  October 24 2012, 10:25AM

    Absolutely! Although not so easily parted in this case, clearly...

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