Developer announced for Brunswick Wharf site

13:31 17 June 2013

An artist

An artist's impression of the how Brunswick Wharf could look.

Archant

Local developer will transform the disused wharves with cafes, a town square and floating pontoons.

An artist's impression of the how Brunswick Wharf could look.An artist's impression of the how Brunswick Wharf could look.

THE chosen developer for the East-the-Water Wharves site has been revealed by Torridge District Council today (Mon).

At the council’s community and resources committee, councillors voted to approve a report on the development on the site.

The Brunswick Wharf site will be developed by Oceanside Developments, run by local developer Simon Maunder, who owns Richmond Dock in Appledore.

Mr Maunder said the plans for the East-the-Water site would include dredging the river, creating a network of floating pontoons and creating easy access to the town.

There would be a café element to the development with a public square which could host street performers, and alfresco dining.

Remedial work on the sea wall would have to be undertaken and the development would also include some ‘sensitively designed’ housing to bring funding to the scheme.

‘Cafe culture’

Mr Maunder said: “Over the centuries, the river Torridge enabled Bideford to trade globally and fuelled the consequent growth and stature of the town.

“But since the middle of the last century Bideford’s maritime related industry has continually declined.

“To the west side of the river, Bideford has recently benefitted from its upgraded quay, which remains a working port.

“Despite this activity Bideford’s waterfront east side of the river has been left comparatively neglected and under utilised for decades.

“We are therefore proposing a large public square with some weather related coverings to encourage a cafe culture and alfresco dining environment, alongside a visitor information centre and some carefully chosen retail outlets.

“We plan to dredge the river on the east side and incorporate a network of floating pontoons (that will dry out at lower tides) for small to medium sized local boats, further interlinking the wharves with the river.

“We aim to create easy access to both the town centre and the Tarka Trail.”

‘Demanding project’

Council leader Phillip Collins said the plans would help make the most of the eastern bank of the River Torridge.

He said: “The redevelopment of East-the-Water will inevitably be a demanding project.

“It is an extremely complex site with numerous challenges such as a damaged harbour wall, land contamination, significant dredging requirements, extensive groundwork needs and other aspects that are problematic and costly.

“Selecting an established, entrepreneurial and sensitive development team has been critical, but councillors are confident that they now have a suitable party interested, and are finalising the legal requirements to ensure the organisation is willing and more than capable of taking on these challenges and achieving something really special for the town.”

The project also has the support of the Bideford and District Chamber of Commerce.

‘Exciting opportunity’

President Paul Phipps said: “Investment in a carefully planned development at East-the-Water gives us an exciting opportunity to pump new life and vitality into a tired and underused area of our wonderful town.

“It is a truly promising step forward for Bideford that should benefit us all through extra choice, extra trading opportunities and new wealth and job creation.”

Bideford Town Mayor Cllr Simon Inch added: “Bideford needs a development that is unique and exciting but which feels part of the town and complements and enhances Bideford as a whole, one that offers further choice and importantly reconnects East-the-Water with the main town by creating an additional desirable area where locals and visitors can shop, live and relax right at the very edge of our wonderful and fascinating river.”

The site was put out to tender by Torridge District Council in February last year with a development brief envisioning a ‘café culture’.

Six developers expressed an interest, with the council short-listing to four, asking for more detailed proposals.

Two of the developers subsequently withdrew and Mr Maunder was chosen as the preferred developer to take on the site.

What do you think about the plans for Brunswick Wharf? Email sarah.howells@archant.co.uk with your thoughts.

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