An historic site in the centre of South Molton has been approved for regeneration for much-needed housing.

Planners at North Devon Council have approved the conversion of existing buildings at The Old Tannery, East Street, South Molton, to create 14 new homes along with seven new dwellings and associated works.

This is the result of long-standing work by the vendors, the Pearce family, the buyer, Mazzard Investments; the agent Greenslade Taylor Hunt; the seller’s solicitor Wollens, the buyer’s solicitor Ashfords and the architect/planning consultants Woodward Smith.

The historic site is on the south eastern edge of the town and was an important late 19th Century oak bark tannery, thought to include parts dating back to the late 17th Century.

The South Molton Gazette dated September 15, 1883, records that Charles and Thomas Pearce, ambitious young brothers from Porlock, had purchased the tannery with plans to modernise and rebuild the old out-dated buildings. Together they created a thriving business using only the abundant supply of local raw materials – hides, ground bark and water.

Towards the middle of the 20th Century, following a steady decline in the tannery trade, largely due to the introduction of synthetic materials and the more modern methods of their competitors, the tannery ceased production. Since then the buildings have provided space for a wide variety of small business operations.

The planning permission will breathe new life into the area and is the subject of a number of obligations, which must be met by the developer.

Image of The Old Tannery reproduced by kind permission of Devon Archives & Local Studies, WCSL P&D44724.