Grand Designs’ ‘saddest ever’ house may finally have a happy ending after being taken off the market so a mystery buyer can enter ‘sale talks’ with the owner.
Father-of-two Edward Short, 52, put Chesil Cliff House in Croyde, Devon, up for sale at a staggering £10million in July last year – and even Harry Styles was rumoured to have been interested.
Edward spent a decade building the extraordinary property, with the ambitious project seeing him transform his family’s 1950s home into an art-deco white lighthouse.
It featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs in October 2019, and was described as the ‘saddest episode ever’ by many viewers after the music industry executive revealed that the arrival of the recession, building issues and the end of his marriage to wife Hazel had left him on the edge of bankruptcy and his dream in tatters.
Edward remained adamant he would finish the design – yet his dream of an idyllic existence in the stunning cliff-top home in one of Devon’s most picturesque coastal locations was dashed and he admitted earlier last year he would be forced to sell it in the hopes of a £4million profit once it was completed at the end of 2021.
READ MORE: Owner of £7million Grand Designs ‘lighthouse’ home that cost him his marriage is ENGAGED to a nurse who he met online – and the pair plan to wed next year
While interest from popstar Styles turned out to be nothing more than a rumour, there may finally be good news in the offing after real estate agents Knight Frank confirmed they now have a ‘serious buyer’ who is discussing the ‘terms of sale’.
A Knight Frank spokesperson told the Daily Star: ‘We are currently discussing terms of a sale with one interested party and, as such, have agreed to remove the property from the open market until further notice.’
A source added: ‘When we have a potential buyer it is often the case that a property is removed from the website providing the client is happy to do so while further negotiations take place.
‘This does not mean that a property is ”under offer”. However, once an offer has been accepted the property will then be put back on the website and listed as ”sold”.’
Viewers were last year left disappointed when Kevin McCloud revisited Grand Designs’ infamous lighthouse which cost £7million to build in a special episode, with many branding it an ‘eyesore’ and a ‘waste of money’ – as even the owner’s daughters confessed they were ‘over’ the project.
Speaking candidly on the show, Kevin admitted to Edward he didn’t think he would see the end of the project.
‘I feel slightly embarrassed that I didn’t think you’d do it,’ he said, adding: ‘I thought venture capitalist would come in, put in their own project manager, you wouldn’t retain title and effectively, you’d be edged out. That was my fear.’
Reflecting on the project, Edward said: ‘It’s worth it because it’s finished. It wouldn’t have been worth if it hadn’t been finished, it would have been painful.’
From MILLIONS of pounds of debt to a wrecked marriage: Timeline of how Chesil Cliff House went from home of dreams to a nightmare
2010: Edward and his wife Hazel appear on Grand Designs to reveal their plan to turn their 1950s home into an art-deco white lighthouse in 18 months. Plans for the development were submitted and approved but several delays ensued.
2012: Spiralling costs and the financial crisis puts the project on hold.
2014: Building work finally gets underway, but is hit by delays due to the weather and financial woes.
2016: Edward secures a loan for more than £2million from private investors
2017: Project is halted again after the pair run out of money.
2018: Couple apologise to local residends who complain the unfinished building is an eyesore
2019: Edward appears on Grand Designs again, admitting that only a few rooms have been finished and that his marriage to Hazel has collapsed under the strain
2021: Building work started again at the property and Edward said he hopes it will be finished by the end of the year
2022: Property is listed for sale for £10 million. Edward said his family are ‘proud’ of what he has achieved
2022: Edward announces he is engaged to a nurse who met online
2023: Knight Frank takes the lighthouse home off the market after finding a ‘serious buyer’
Meanwhile, his daughters Lauren, 24, and Nicole, 22, admitted there had been times where they were ‘over’ the project.
In the episode Grand Designs’ presenter Kevin McCloud travelled back to North Devon to follow up on the project, and he was impressed with the art deco lighthouse overlooking the coast.
However, audiences didn’t share his enthusiasm, with many saying they felt sad for Edward and calling his story ‘soul-destroying,’ adding that the lighthouse was unappealing to the eye.
‘What an eyesore on that beautiful landscape,’ one said.
‘The sad fact of the lighthouse is he could have made something so much more humble and let the views do the talking. The lighthouse takes away from the land it sits on and swallows it up, in a tacky way. No it was not worth it,’ another said.
‘Greed. Nothing more, nothing less. My jaw dropped when he said yes after Kevin asked him if it was all worth it. No sympathy,’ another wrote.
‘He hasn’t sold it yet. And the chances of getting anything near £2m-£8m for the pair are vanishingly small. To be frank, you could get far better homes for £1m, let alone £10m. It’s soulless, windswept, impractical, overblown and will be a money pit to maintain,’ another said.
‘I am not sure what I think about this lighthouse, I want to love it, but I just don’t. Was it worth everything he went through?’ one asked.
Others said they liked the lighthouse but felt Ed’s story was sad.
‘Just a bit sad that episode of Grand Designs, spend 12 years of stress and splitting his family with ultimately nothing to show for it, lovely big house but something he will never live in,’ a viewer pointed out.
‘Probably one of the most soul destroying episodes. A complete waste of time, money, resources for what? A blot on a beautiful landscape,’ one wrote.
‘What a fantastic house on the Devon cliffs! But such a sad story,’ one wrote.
‘Whatever you think of Edward, I personally think it’s sad what’s happened, we all have a vision & dreams in life & that was his. Been visiting Croyde since I was a child & it will always have a place in my heart,’ one said.
Elsewhere on the programme, Edward’s children Lauren and Nicole explained how the build had destroyd their family.
Speaking to Kevin in last year’s episode, Lauren said: ‘I don’t think any of us fully gave up on the idea that the house wouldn’t still happen.
‘But being a family house, that one got given up. that was tough,’ with both and her sister adding: ‘it leaves a hole.’
Nicole spoke candidly of being ‘over the house’ which took 12 years to build.
‘I had my times a few years ago where I was so over it. I just wanted it to be done ad fell out with people asking questions,’ she told Kevin.
‘Especially because I don’t know half of the answers to these questions,’ she added.
‘When he started it, it was going to be a two-year job or something, and it’s now 12 years down the line,’ she joked.
The young woman also talked about her parents’ split, after the lighthouse took a toll on their marriage.
‘But what happened between my mum and dad, even without the house, would have probably have happened anyway,’ she said, adding their parents were much happier now than they were at the time.
She talked of her parents’ new partners, especially her father’s fiancée Jalia Nambasa, a nurse Edward is planning to marry next year.
‘He’s in such a better place now, and I think mum finding her partner and dad finding his partner as well, just to see him happier, he’s a lot less stressed than he was and everything has fallen into place which is cool, Nicole said.
Speaking of his own previous marriage on the show, Edward said: ‘We genuinely are better than when we were married. She is the mother of my children, she is always going to be present in my life.’
After meeting with the family, Kevin reflected on Edward story, saying: ‘Three years ago, I described this build as a cautionary tale of overreaching ambition, which damaged a relationship, fractured a family, and also, of course, had taken Ed to the brink of bankruptcy.
‘But then you see that same ambition, that same drive, is what has taken Ed to this point. a point where he can call this place finished, where the family can draw a line, they can move on,’ he added.
‘Buildings can sustain; it’s not just physically, it’s also emotionally and spiritually too. Their walls can contain within them angst and pain as well as love, and joy.
‘I don’t think I ever visited a place which so eloquently, so powerfully spoke of healing, redemption and achievement,’ the presenter added.
Photographs revealing the finished property were unveiled this summer, showing the white art-deco lighthouse perched on the edge of a cliff with an infinity pool running along one edge – just as Edward had always dreamed.
Speaking to The Times in July, he claimed his ex-wife Hazel was ‘blown away’ when she first saw the house, and adding: ‘I think having been unsure for so long, its only when you get to that final moment of builders pulling out — with finishing touches done and furniture in — that it’s, like, ‘Yeah, now I get it.’ ‘
Meanwhile he revealed he and his family watched the episode of Grand Designs together, adding: ‘We laughed and we cried, it was very emotional.’
And despite all the issues and problems that came with the house, Edward said he had learned not to ‘worry’ which he said was just ‘burning energy unnecessarily.’
He added he hadn’t fitted a kitchen, bathrooms, flooring and light fixtures, saying: ‘Whoever buys it will want to do their own thing.’
Last July, property consultancy Knight Frank announced the launch of the sale of the main house and its annex known as The Eye, with a guide price of £10million.
The house is positioned on a three-acre site between surfers’ paradise Saunton Sands backed by the impressive UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Braunton Burrows, and the idyllic cove of Croyde.
It has been anchored into the bed rock of the cliff, painstakingly engineered to a level that leaves no possibility for erosion hazards.
The agents described the property as one of the most impressive waterfront homes around and said they expected ‘global interest’ in the sale.
It comprises of five bedrooms and bathrooms, four reception rooms, a sauna and a cellar. The property also includes the three-bedroom studio annex known as The Eye and a double garage.
Edward has previously revealed he has had no option but to sell the home to cover the large amount of money he had to borrow during the project, explaining that total costs were set to reach £6million.
Speaking last July, he said: ‘These past ten years have been a marathon slog – and I have got used to being a millionaire in debt. I’ve accepted the only way forward is to finish and sell it.
‘I had no idea it would end up costing so much but I’ve accepted now that I’m never going to be able to live in it because I have money I need to pay back. It was my overconfidence and arrogance that got me here in the first place so I’m doing what I need to do.
‘Even though I’ll be selling it, I’m still finding it so exciting to see this concrete skeleton finally coming together into a beautiful building.’
Edward previously apologised to locals who he said were fed up of seeing the unfinished grey eyesore on the point, but also asked them to ‘stick with it’.
He had told them: ‘I know it’s a mess, and I have to fix that – but when it is finished it will be amazing. Judge it when it’s finished.’
In a 2019 episode of Grand Designs, Edward explained that he’d long dreamed of building a lighthouse on the cliff – but said several factors got in the way.
‘I always looked at it and thought it would be so cool to knock it down and build a lighthouse,’ said Edward, speaking of how he decided to revamp their existing property.
‘Once you get a dream like that in your head it just doesn’t budge. It’s just one of those spots where you could expect to find that type of building.’
The couple planned to build the luxury home, comprising a huge circular tower and spectacular glass-edge infinity pool, in just 18 months.
The six-bedroom house, which they hoped would also feature a home cinema, a sauna and steam room, would boast panoramic views across Croyde Bay to the north, as well as to Saunton beach and Braunton Burrows to the south.
They hoped it would cost £2.2 million, but it quickly became apparent the build was near-impossible to complete. The house required complex engineering, with the couple sinking 25 ‘anchors’ into the rock in order to support the home.
But by February 2012, the financial crisis meant they had to put plans on hold and they started to build a smaller building further along the coastline which they nicknamed the ‘eye’.
In February 2016, Edwards secured a loan of £2.5million from private investors, which he admitted he was depending on to finish the build.
He told Grand Designs’ host Kevin the project had become a nightmare, saying: ‘Terrifying is an adjective that doesn’t really sum it up if I’m honest.’
When Kevin asked if he could have compromised, Edward said: ‘You are right but the concept is very difficult to walk away from. No to compromise. To owe over £2million now is scary you think ‘Christ this is mounting up’.’ With the financial pressure growing, Hazel said she was becoming increasingly worried.
She said: ‘Worse case scenario is we will have to sell the whole thing. Yes, that’s a scary thing and yes, that keeps me up at night.’
With debts of over three million, the couple were trapped by the thought that if they were to finish the project, it could end up selling for £7million.
But when Kevin returned to the property in 2019, he found it was still unfinished. The presenter described it as ‘the bare bones of a house and more like a desolate carcass’.
He went on to say: ‘It’s a little bit like finding the wreckage of a building on a seashore’.
Edward said: ‘I’ve had better days I must admit. It all came to a halt in June, July 2017. I ran out of money.’
He revealed: ‘A bit of an eyesore is the feeling at the moment. I sometimes wonder if I might have been too ambitious. There’s what I want, and there’s reality.’
At the time, he told Kevin his marriage had collapsed due to the strain, insisted he would still try to finish the building.
He said: ‘I don’t have the option of not finishing. To finish it may take over £2 million.
‘This is a beast, this is a baby that is so hungry it will eat me. It’s that savage now. The end-game could still be bankruptcy. If there is one huge guilt I have over everything, it’s the impact on my family.’
He said the build had destroyed his marriage, saying: ‘We parted properly last year. I put her through a horrendous time with this, knocking the family home down, putting all our money into it, no one has any idea what the outcome is.
‘It doesn’t get much worse than that. I have to take it on the chin – my ambitioned vanity has probably collapsed the marriage. That’s the truth.’
At the time, viewers were shocked by Edward’s attitude, with one writing: ‘Christ, a perfectly good home demolished, a beautiful cliff destroyed, family life in ruins, and divorce. Has there ever been a more tragic Grand Designs?’
Another added: ‘I never want to wish ill on anyone but I’ve never wanted anyone to fail more than this greedy, entitled family.’ A third said: ‘Honestly this couple on #GrandDesigns go bankrupt I won’t even feel bad for them. This is potentially the most irresponsible and greedy build I’ve ever seen.’