The South Hams Society

Protecting and Enhancing the Natural Beauty and Heritage of the South Hams

Who We Are


  • To stimulate interest and care for the beauty, history and character of the South Hams.
  • To encourage high standards of planning and architecture that respect the character of the South Hams.
  • To secure the protection & improvement of the landscape, features of historic interest and public amenity.
  • To promote the conservation of the South Hams as a living, working environment.

The Society was founded in 1961, a year after the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) was designated, to protect and contribute to the natural amenity of what was recognised as a very special area. Since then rapidly rising property prices and the complexity of the planning system have provided conditions in which the South Hams is under relentless pressure from developers of all types, creating a real threat to its character and beauty which is loved by so many.

These pressures are eroding the natural environment more rapidly than ever before. We are particularly alarmed at the current rate of tree loss in the area. The protection afforded by designations such as AONB and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is not as effective as is often assumed. Other guardians of the environment, such as Natural England, the Devon Wildlife Trust and the RSPB have specialised interests which do not necessarily accord with those of the farming community or the wider interests of the public. The South Hams Society has an important role to play in making the priorities of the local community known. Now more than ever before we need an active and involved society.

Now finalised and published online, the Joint Local Plan specifies what development will be allowed in the South Hams, and where.

The South Hams Society reviews planning applications which it believes do not meet public policy, it writes to the Local Planning Authority (South Hams District Council) and provides advice at planning meetings or inquiries.

We make representations to various environmental bodies in order to try to preserve and encourage wildlife, not only in Nature Reserves and SSSIs but in the rest of the countryside which forms the background to our daily lives here. The improvement and conservation of our natural environment is of great importance for us all.

Recent SHS events include visits to a local vineyard and a micro-brewer. There have also been beach clean-ups, a canoeing trip, a bird-watching cruise on the Rivermaid and talks on local wildlife, most recently bees.

We have contacts in other local and national organisations, including the Salcombe and Kingsbridge Estuary Association, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, English Heritage and the National Trust.

A new Management Committee has recently been appointed by the South Hams Society which is committed to holding more regular meetings, hopefully quarterly.

In the meantime, if you would like to raise any matter, please contact our Chair by e-mail on:

We hope to see you at one of our meetings soon!

As well as updating this website, we are currently working to re-instate the Society’s Bulletin. Previous editions included articles on both general and local subjects, such as hedges, farming issues, conservation projects, current planning concerns and natural history.


Please join us, it costs just £10 a year. Please print out the application form (which includes a Gift Aid declaration) and send it to:

The South Hams Society, Alexanders Cottage, Frogmore, Kingsbridge, Devon, TQ7 2NR.

For information on trustees please go to the Charity Commission.



Join us now and help protect this beautiful part of England. Membership costs just £10 a year.

Application Form

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