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Former children's home sold for redevelopment

By MDGPatrick  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

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FORMER children's home in the centre of Willand has been sold subject to planning permission, but the potential new owner has yet to be revealed.

The Gables, built by Doctor Henry Tracey in 1895, closed as a Devon County Council home a decade ago and has lain empty since.

The council announced it was selling the property, which has extensive gardens and large outbuildings, earlier this year.

Willand Parish Council  expressed an interest in running part of the estate as a community centre.

But  workers were today seen on the site and it was later announced that a buyer had been found, subject to planning permission,  through a tendering process.

There has been much speculation about what might happen to the house, with housing development considered the most likely scenario.

Devon County Councillor for Willand, Ray Radford, said he had been unable to find out who had bought the property, but he said there would still be an opportunity for the parish council proposals to go ahead, perhaps as part of an agreement with any developer reached through the planning process.

He said workers seen on the site – which is opposite the village hall and tennis courts – were merely surveyors.

"A developer would not be permitted to start works until they have permission," he said.

"I expect we'll see a planning application submitted to Mid Devon District Council soon, then Willand residents will have a chance to have their say."

It cost Dr Tracey £2,235 to build the Gables on the site of what was once allotments, which were moved to their current Silver Street location.

He lived there with his wife and children Marjorie, Evelyn, Lilian and Geoffrey from 1896, buying surrounding fields to construct an estate of orchards, trout ponds and tennis courts.

The Traceys went on to have 11 children and were well known in the village.

While run as a children's home, between 1950 and 2002, the home was opened for fetes and Christmas parties.

The home was supervised by a Mr and Mrs Trotman, a Mr and Mrs Willatt and a Mr and Mrs Southwood. In 1976 Paul Pauline Hurring became houseparents, living in the old stable block, where they brought up their own children, Catherine and Stuart.

No one from Devon County Council was available for comment.

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