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Barnstaple Fair could stay at Seven Brethren - but cinema and restaurant idea is scrapped

PUBLISHED: 14:59 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 20:52 04 December 2017

The site at Seven Brethren in Barnstaple. Picture: Austin Wallas

The site at Seven Brethren in Barnstaple. Picture: Austin Wallas

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Revised plans for Seven Brethren will include a car park and housing, as council looks for alternative site for leisure and restaurants in Barnstaple.

Plans for a cinema, hotel and restaurants at Seven Brethren have been scrapped - but it could provide salvation for Barnstaple Fair.

A new master-plan for the riverside spot has been agreed by North Devon Council today (Monday) after a parking study found long-stay parking would still be needed on the site.

The new proposals include the relocation of long-stay parking to the rear of the site which could be used for events such as the fair.

The current leisure centre and existing long-stay car park would be used for housing, with space to provide up to 245 units of accommodation, including apartments and town houses.

But the original plans for restaurant and leisure facilities at Seven Brethren, such as a multi-screen cinema and hotel, have now been scrapped.

In February, district council leader Des Brailey told Gazette he was confident the council was pursuing the right strategy for Barnstaple. Instead, the council has now identified alternative sites for these facilities, and is looking at its options – including Queen Street as one prospective site.

Queen Street development back on the table?

In 2008, detailed proposals for the Queen Street and Bear Street site were unveiled by Wilson Bowden Developments, but came to nothing following the economic downturn.

The original plans for the regeneration of Barnstaple’s Queen Street, drawn up by Wilson Bowden Developments in 2008. Picture: Wilson Bowden Developments The original plans for the regeneration of Barnstaple’s Queen Street, drawn up by Wilson Bowden Developments in 2008. Picture: Wilson Bowden Developments

Then in 2012, the council began work to appoint development agents for the site, but the sites still remain untouched.

Executive member for economic development, Councillor Pat Barker, said: “This is a massive project for us and it’s part of the wider regeneration of Barnstaple.

“There are many elements to bring together - parking and transport, retail, leisure and housing and it’s important we get this right for the town.

“Now that we have our revised plans approved, we can move forward to the next stage of this exciting opportunity for Barnstaple.”

New leisure centre plans ‘unaffected’

Plans are already well advanced to provide a new swimming pool and sports facilities at Tarka Tennis Centre and these are not affected by the changes to the master plan for Seven Brethren.

Ellen Vernon, economic development manager at North Devon Council, said: “We are looking to regenerating as much of Barnstaple as possible.

“To do this we are looking at lots of different areas in the town so that we can use every space to its full potential.

“We want to provide a town centre that meets the needs of everyone; providing facilities which meet the needs of our local residents as well as attracting visitors into town.

“Barnstaple has great things to offer and we also want to target visitors who come to North Devon for the coast.

“Our parking study, as well as work we have done in the past, is helping us identify areas which we could use differently in the town.

“We hope to have more information on wider plans in the new year.”

Barnstaple Town Council clerk Will Austin said the council welcomed the re-think on Seven Brethren but said councillors would be pressing for more detail at a meeting on December 14.

He said: “If the fair does remain at the current location then that’s a relief all round, although the district council had already assured the town council that it would provide an alternative site.”

He added: “Councillors are very keen to understand about the detail of the proposals and the strategy that underpins them.

“We met with the district council to discuss the parking strategy and members did raise concerns about long stay car parking. The council is pleased that on the face of it those concerns have been heeded.”

Do you prefer the revised plans? Which areas of the town would you like to see developed? Comment below and take part in our poll above.

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