Grand Designs

The “saddest ever” Grand Designs home has hit the market once again after being listed by debt collectors for a knock down price of £5.5 million.

Chesil Cliff House in North Devon cost its owner Edward Short absolutely everything – resulting in the breakdown of his marriage and leaving him an estimated £7m in debt.

The lighthouse home first hit the market in February last year with an asking price of £10m, but despite garnering some interest from multimillionaires including Harry Styles, it remained unsold, with the asking price ultimately deemed too high.

As noted by the host, Kevin McCloud, at the start of the 2019 episode: “If a lighthouse has a single message that it shouts out, it is this: ‘Stay away – or risk destruction’.”

The lighthouse began as an ambitious project for Edward and his then-wife Hazel 12 years ago, who hoped to build their dream family home on the coast in a bid to enjoy a slower pace of life than they had in London.

They threw their entire life savings of £1.8m at the project and believed that it could be completed in just 18 months despite its complex rocky costal location.

However, when the build first appeared on Grand Designs in 2019 – in what viewers described as the “saddest ever episode” – it quickly became apparent that this was going to be impossible.

Edward lost everything when building his dream costal family home (Tom Wren SWNS)

McCloud himself noted that it was astonishing that the couple planned to complete “the feat of complex engineering” in such a short space of time.

Due to the complexity of the build, costs and the time involved soon spiralled for the family who proceeded to borrow £2.5 million from private investors and an additional £500,000 from a hedge fund.

The couple’s daughters even tried to help finance the ambitious project, which their father said there would be no compromise on, by holding car boot sales.

However, seven years on from the build beginning, which saw the original 1950s home in the location demolished, the modern, art deco lighthouse home remained incomplete.

Edward later told The Sun that what he put his wife through while building the property was “horrendous”.

“There’s a lot of guilt about that. But there was no way out, once we started. If we didn’t finish we’d have been in big trouble,” the former music industry sales executive said.

“It was awful for the family because I pulled the stability rug from under them, without being able to give answers of how we were going to get out of it, other than that I had to carry on.”

The house sits on the cliff edge (Knight Frank)

Following on from the first episode, Grand Designs revisited the project in 2022, when it emerged that while the home had finally been completed, it had cost Edward absolutely everything in the process.

He lost money, his marriage and even the goodwill of his neighbours.

The house left host McCloud visibly impressed by its stunning coastal views and an inside which he noted felt like the outside because of the many, large windows.

Some of the property’s notable features include 360 views of the coastline and a large infinity pool. It also has planning permission for a helipad.

Grand Designs
Grand Designs

“The end game could be bankruptcy,” Edward admitted of the dream home.

McCloud then revealed that even though Edward managed to “finance” the dream home “to completion”, because of the way in which it was financed, he would “never live in his beloved lighthouse”.

“It is worth it because it’s finished,” Edward said, “it would not have been worth it had it not been finished, it would have been painful. Very painful.”

The house is pile-driven to save it from falling into the sea when the cliffs erode (Knight Frank)

One of the interested buyers last year, Michael Jackson’s former bodyguard, Matt Fiddes, said he saw potential in the property but he was not prepared to cough up the £10m asking price.

Matt, who offered £7.5 million for the home, said: “I built my property portfolio in the South West and I know the market, I know how it works. I told Edward face to face and said it wouldn’t sell but you can lead a horse to water and all that. I do feel sorry for the guy as no one wants to see anyone lose everything.

“I would turn it into 12 apartments as myself and my wife and spoke with [the estate agent] Knight Frank and it is perfect for that. We would rent the other house and make thousands.”

The house benefits from a large infinity pool (Knight Frank)

The house also prompted concerns from locals, who were worried that because of the sheer size and location of the 3.13-acre property, it could well be swallowed up by the sea.

Matt said: “The residents want it abolished and knocked down. I know the leader of the local council and I would like to explain my plans and hope to get their approval. I won’t do it if they don’t want it as the place means a lot to me because of my roots as I took my holidays there.”

The residents first expressed their concerns when the home was being built, objecting to Edward’s planning applications that were ultimately successful.

Some of the cited concerns included worries that the mansion would destroy the coastal views and potentially be a hazard for passing drivers because of its many lights.

Braunton parish councillor Derrick Spear said: “It’s over the top. You could say it’s avant-garde – or, more likely, it doesn’t blend in with its surroundings, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

The rooms in the tower have panoramic views (Knight Frank)

But while locals were initially concerned, they were reportedly sympathetic to Edward’s situation.

One resident admitted: “After the documentary came out, there was a huge lots of sympathy for Ed. I can’t speak for the people of Croyde, but before the programme people were concerned over the cranes for a long time, the size. For neighbours any building site is difficult.

“But what he’s done is great. The actual building now is fantastic. It just took a long time.”

While Edward described the house as finished in the 2022 follow-up episode, according to the estate agent, it is still incomplete in some areas such as the kitchen.

The house has ultimately been described as “one of the UK’s most spectacular newly built coastal homes” by its agent who dubbed it an “exciting blank canvas, giving the new owner the opportunity to design their own interior fit-out”.

At the time of writing, the property is no longer available via OpenRent, but it is still listed by Addland, who stress in the description that it is a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.

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