Working with Clinton Devon Estates to create a sustainable legacy

LHC has worked with major Devon landowner, Clinton Devon Estates for more than a decade; from our first commission in 2005 to design a new head office at Bicton Park, to our current work on residential masterplans, homes and landscape settings for the landowner and development partners.

Clinton Devon Estate (CDE) owns and manages 25,000 acres of land in Devon, including a major part of the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Special Area of Conservation. It is a family-owned business that traces its origins in East Devon to the 16th century, with activities ranging from traditional farming and forestry operations to business parks and residential property.

CDE’s mission ‘to secure the long term prosperity of the Estates and the people who live and work on them in ways which care for the countryside and engage with the wider community’ found a sympathetic audience at LHC, particularly with Director and part-owner, John Baulch.

John is both an architect and urban designer and has fostered the holistic approach which characterises LHC’s attitude to projects. He believes passionately in designing sustainable buildings and communities which sit naturally with the history and landscape of their location. In 2005 he relished the opportunity to design CDE a new headquarters to sit comfortably in the magnificent Grade One listed, 18th century parkland at Bicton, which is a designed landscape of national importance.

Green, award winning Rolle Estate Office

Having outgrown the house that had been Clinton Devon Estate’s centre of operations for many years, a new office was needed that would be centrally located and built to extremely high environmental standards. The site that best met these criteria was located on the edge of the registered 18th century park at Bicton.

Building in Grade One listed parkland is unusual, if not unprecedented, and the challenge for LHC was to design a building which not only fulfilled CDE’s functional requirements, but also responded to the historic landscape in a positive and creative way; incorporating local materials and achieving high levels of sustainability; and pleasing both Natural England and English Heritage.

John Baulch’s response to this brief was an elliptical building, reflecting the form of the historic tree clumps; built of locally quarried Exeter Red Stone and locally harvested timber; with a green roof and partly buried to ensure that it sat well below the tree canopy, like a park pavilion.


Officially opened by HRH the Duke of Gloucester in 2009, the building won numerous awards, including a RIBA award for innovative design and sustainability, a Green Apple environmental award and a prestigious regional British Council for Offices award.  It is featured as one of the case studies in Historic England’s guidance on sustainable development in historic places – read here

Building a legacy

Since the success of the Rolle Estate Office, LHC’s multi-disciplinary team has brought forward a number of landscape-led residential developments for CDE across the county, including Merton in Mid Devon; and Woodbury, Beer and East Budleigh in East Devon.

In every project, Clinton Devon Estates have engaged with the team right from project inception, working with the designers to develop a clear vision; really involving the local community and stakeholders, and investing in high-quality design which meets their ethos of ‘Handing over something more valuable than we have today.

Two of our favourites, which best demonstrate this ethos, are in the seaside resorts of Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth.

New homes and allotments in Budleigh Salterton

In 2009 Budleigh Salterton Town Council asked CDE to think about how they might help tackle the shortage of housing for young people in the area. CDE appointed LHC to prepare concept proposals for a site on the edge of the town. The site was partly covered by popular allotments and located wholly within East Devon AONB.


LHC designed several options to present to the Town Council, and then to a well-attended public consultation, where the proposals were supported by 80% of people. The favoured option proposed 48 new homes, 40% of which would be affordable, with the allotments to be retained and moved to the heart of the new development.  Consultation with the allotment holders ensured that the scheme improved soil and facilities, and that temporary nursery space was provided to store plants during development. The number of allotments also increased from 56 to 87 which helped to reduce a long waiting list.

The new houses were designed by LHC in the Arts & Crafts style. In order to ensure that the design concept and vision was delivered CDE retained an interest in the site, appointing local housebuilder Cavanna Homes to be a joint venture partner, with LHC retained as designers throughout to ensure continuity of the design vision.

Completed in 2015, Greenway Lane won Best Partnership Scheme for Clinton Devon Estates, Cavanna Homes and Cornerstone at What House? Awards. The development’s success was also celebrated by the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) as it launched its Rural Policy Paper which suggested rural estates could help increase the stock of affordable homes in the countryside.

New homes and sensitive landscaping Plumb Park, Exmouth

Plumb Park is located in a sensitive area on the eastern edge of Exmouth, adjacent to ‘The Avenues’ Conservation Area and bordering the East Devon AONB.

LHC were appointed to develop a masterplan for a strategic housing scheme to respond to the landscape setting, retain and enhance key landscape features and biodiversity, and provide new homes with 40% affordable dwellings for local people. As with Greenway Lane, CDE wanted to create a lasting legacy and ensure that the development was of high design quality.


The scheme provides seven hectares of open space centred on a new park at Donkey Hill, a local landscape feature.  A strongly curving streetscape responds to context and landform and reflects the character of the adjacent ‘The Avenues’ Conservation Area.  350 new homes, community orchards and allotments are planned, along with strong links between the wider countryside and the town, sustainable drainage systems and biodiversity enhancement.

Plumb Park achieved outline planning consent in 2014 and once again CDE have maintained an interest and are working with development partners Taylor Wimpey to deliver the scheme, which has recently started on site. LHC has been retained as technical advisers to CDE, overseeing the scheme to ensure it meets the agreed vision.

We’ve enjoyed working with the team at Clinton Devon Estates over the past decade and more, and are gratified that they continue to appreciate our work.

“At Clinton Devon Estates we choose to work only with those who can meet our high standards and share our vision.  Our relationship with LHC goes back well over a decade and continues to go from strength to strength. 

“LHC understand the true meaning of sustainability and leaving legacies that future generations will cherish.  Every project we have worked on with LHC has been a success in terms of enhancing communities, the economy and the wider built environment. 

“All have been professionally and sensitively planned and meticulously executed.  The depth of experience and the capability of their people make them a joy to work with.”

Estates Director, John Varley: