EXMOOR National Park is being taken to court by a Somerset charity over potential damage to the character of one of the south west’s most beloved walking routes.

The South West Coast Path runs for 630 miles between Minehead and Poole, taking in the northern edge of the national park.

The national park, in its capacity as the local planning authority, recent approved plans to demolish and replace a 1920s workman’s bungalow which lies on the coast path near Bossington, between Minehead and Porlock.

But CPRE Somerset is seeking to overturn this decision via a judicial review, arguing the replacement property would be “inappropriate” and that the national park has ignored local objections to the scheme.

The Hurlstone Bungalow – described by the CPRE as “a modest wooden workman’s bungalow” – lies on the coast path north of the National Trust car park in Bossington, a short distance from the River Horner.

The bungalow, which dates back to 1924, has been uninhabited since 2016, and lies next to two smaller buildings which were abandoned many years before this date.

The property was recently acquired by London-based architect Ivo Carew, who submitted plans to demolish the structure and replace it with a larger, more modern bungalow with a biomass boiler.

Mr Carew intends for the property to eventually be used by a local family of four, who have links to Porlock Weir.

He said: “This self-build replacement bungalow will create a highly sustainable dwelling for a local young family with strong ties to the area and will be a significant improvement over the existing dilapidated dwelling.

“It would demonstrate how both sustainable and aesthetic considerations can successfully be employed in new buildings on Exmoor for local people with well-designed houses based on traditional designs.”

Under the national park’s replacement buildings policy, any replacements to buildings within the national park’s borders should be of a “similar scale and massing” to the original building, to prevent damaging the landscape and character of the local area.

The plans attracted numerous objections, including formal responses from the National Trust, CPRE Somerset and the South West Coast Park Association.

Despite this, the national park’s planning committee voted on March 11 to approve the plans by ten votes to five, with two abstentions – going against the advice of their own planning officers.

CPRE Somerset – also known as The Countryside Charity – has now lodged a pre-judicial review action letter with the national park authority, to see if the decision can be reviewed and overturned without taking matters all the way to the High Court.

CPRE Somerset chairman Hugh Williams said: “If this decision is not challenged, our concern is that a dangerous precedent would be set in the national park.

“One of our proposed grounds of challenge is that the measurements of the proposed replacement house cannot rationally be described as reflecting, or being similar to, the mass and scale of the original dwelling.

“Furthermore, councillors did not consider all the elements of the replacement buildings policy.

“We want to show our support for local residents who are trying their best to protect the unique qualities of the Coastal Path from inappropriate development, which is why we have initiated proceedings for judicial review.

“We are grateful that substantial donations are being made by local residents towards our costs.”