Damon Albarn — who 'lives in a house, a very big house in the country' — installs heat pump without planning permission

A split shot of Blur frontman Damon Albarn singing to the left and an overhead view of his home in Devon
David Albarn installed an air source heat pump at his property which has caused some noise complaints from his local parish (Image credit: Getty/ Google Earth)

Blur frontman Damon Albarn has upset his local parish council by installing what they call “visually and acoustically intrusive” heat pumps without planning permission next to a public footpath.

The 55-year-old superstar installed an air source heat pump during refurbishments at his countryside home near the village of Kellaton in the South Devon Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

But Stokenham Parish Council was “disappointed” with the siting of the pump close to a footpath – and planners raised an issue with wooden instead of metal cladding on a workshop and studio on the site.

What did Blur frontman install without planning?

The musician undertook a “revision to external cladding material and high level window design and additional external door to gable end of workshop/studio, plus additional ground source heat pump,” according to South Hams District Council planning documents.

The proposal also seeks retrospective consent for an air source heat pump.

The site is within the South Devon AONB, Undeveloped Coast and Heritage Coast and is therefore a sensitive site in landscape terms, a planning report states.

An aerial view of the property

Damon Albarn lives in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Devon (Image credit: Google)

How did the Parish Council react?

In planning consultation documents, the Parish Council said: “The officer had previously felt on the original application that the introduction of charred larch cladding would have an historic and environmental impact. The applicant had however gone ahead and done these works and this application was noted as being retrospective.

“Parish Council had not seen a problem on this point but when the works were put into context with these historic site comments, the siting of the ‘proposed’ heat pump outside the application red curtilage line was highlighted as a concern.

Retrospective planning applications were never well received so parish council were disappointed with this siting as the purpose of this pump was to heat additional commercial not residential premises.

"The setting of a second heat pump outside the red line, on the application, located right next to the footpath was intrusive visually and acoustically when it was felt it could have been located away from the footpath and still keep noise away from the main property."

Was he granted retrospective permission?

Officials at South Hams District Council granted retrospective consent for the heat pump and cladding at the property, with planning officer Harriet Fuller stating: “The physical changes compared to the previously approved scheme is a change of material from a mix of profiled metal clad and brick, to vertical timber with a charred finish.

“There is also a proposed change in the arrangement of openings on the east elevation. Overall, the proposals are concluded to be acceptable in terms of design and not considered to have any significant adverse impacts on the unspoilt character, appearance or tranquillity of the landscape.”

The report also said the further air source heat pump installation is a suitable addition to the site because Plymouth and South West Devon Councils adopted a Climate Emergency Statement in November 2022.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.