Damien Hirst has been forced to drop his plans for a massive housing development near his childhood home close to the British seaside town of Ilfracombe, Devon.
Although the Turner Prize winner’s proposal was approved by the local council in 2014, the artist was forced to wave the white flag after persistent problems with developers who were unable or unwilling to take on the ambitious project, envisioned by Hirst, to build 750 environmentally friendly homes.
A spokesman for Resign, Hirst’s company, told the Daily Mail, “Over the past year we have been trying to find a suitable partner for our part of the Southern Extension. Unfortunately in the current economic climate all the developers we spoke to felt it wasn’t viable to deliver the housing in keeping with our vision.”
Local ward member Councillor Mike Edmunds praised the artist for his efforts, telling the North Devon Gazette, “Damien Hirst and his team from Resign should be thanked for all the hard work that they have done to take this application forward.”
Despite his good intentions to overhaul the town’s “anonymous lifeless buildings,” the artist’s vision was controversial from the get-go. Several locals feared that the development submitted by the celebrity artist would interfere with their small town way of life by attracting too much unwanted attention from visitors to the area.
Many locals are already overwhelmed by the artist’s influence in the town. Hirst owns several businesses and properties in the small village, including a restaurant and a hotel, and in 2012 he erected a massive 67 foot bronze statue of a pregnant woman wielding a sword amid protests against what some villagers viewed as an eyesore.
Meanwhile the town has already found an alternative developer to take on the challenging project, and Ilfracombe mayor Paul Crabb said the construction is moving forward. “It’s good to see progress on the site. The main thing we are trying to achieve with this is that it will help areas such as the High Street become more viable.”
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