New Year start for Bideford regeneration plans

Joseph Bulmer

REGENERATION plans for Bideford are due to take a major step forward in the New Year.

Plans are being laid to put the East-the-Water riverside wharves in Bideford on the market to developers and a start will be made on redeveloping Jubilee Square.

A site development brief for the riverside wharves has been completed, to provide a blueprint for prospective developers.

Drawn up jointly by Torridge District Council and North Devon Plus, it is a framework for the development of the wharves stretching from Bideford Long Bridge to the Wooda Surgery.

Particulars were being drawn up over the next six to eight weeks, ready to go out in mid to late January, said Peter Quincey of the Joint Delivery Team employed within North Devon Plus.

There was already private sector interest, he said.

It is understood that no price has been set, but that there will be a tender system.

The brief takes into account a wide range of issues, including the prime position of the site, riverside location, potential constraints such as flood risk, proximity to sensitive historic structures, needs of the local economy and views expressed by local people at two public consultations.

Mr Quincey said: “We envisage a high quality, mixed use scheme. There will be some high value uses, such as housing, to enable the scheme to meet the costs of developing such a site and to be viable. It must be viable and developable by the private sector.”

The wharves are close to Bideford Long Bridge and the Royal Hotel, both Grade 1 listed structures, and to a conservation area. They would be looking to see development in keeping with tradition rather than glass and steel, but with modern convenience, said Mr Quincey.

The brief shows three separate sections of potential development. At the Long Bridge end, the plan is for a public square and community facility space with flexibility for a variety of potential uses. There are also plans for quality bars and restaurants and small-scale, high quality, retail outlets.

The aim was to help boost both Bideford’s daytime and evening economies and to bring in investment, said Mr Quincey.

The central area of the site is earmarked for the ‘enabling’ housing development and the northern end for car parking.

There are also hopes of a riverside walkway to make full use of the waterside setting and of encouraging leisure craft to make use of the eastern riverbank as an additional way of bringing in visitors to the town.

Torridge District Council leader Cllr Barry Parsons said: “I am very encouraged that the Site Development Brief has been endorsed by the council. Things can now move forward with the regeneration of the wharves, which should in turn benefit the whole town and indeed the whole of the district.”

Delays in a start on the Jubilee Square scheme have now been unblocked and a three-month programme of enhancement and pedestrianisation works is due to start in January or early February.

This will include the adjacent Manor Car Park, with plans to also incorporate Cooper Street at the same time or shortly afterwards.

Among the proposals are for a trio of flagpoles on which to fly the national flags of Bideford’s twin towns.