Building work at Barnstaple’s Anchorwood Bank development, which will include Next, Chiquito and Frankie and Benny’s has begun

Work at Anchorwood Bank.Work at Anchorwood Bank.

New shops and restaurants at Barnstaple's Anchorwood Bank have taken a step forward, with building work starting today (Monday).

Wessex Investors will build six retail units with Next, DFS, Chiquito plus Frankie and Benny's already agreeing and confirming terms for occupation.

In a statement, it said construction would be complete by the end of March next year, with the confirmed shops and restaurants opening in 'early summer' 2018.

The entrance to the Anchorwood Bank development.The entrance to the Anchorwood Bank development.

Tenants for the two remaining units are likely to be announced as the building work nears its end, with Wessex Investors saying it is 'continuing to market' them.

Wessex Investors managing director Andrew Pegg, said: "We are very pleased to be beginning construction work on the retail and restaurant area at Anchorwood Bank today and look forward to sharing our plans for the Oliver Buildings in due course.

"As residents watch the site come to life after years of neglect, we hope people agree that we have created a real asset for Barnstaple, of which the local community can be proud.'

The Oliver Buildings at Anchorwood Bank.The Oliver Buildings at Anchorwood Bank.

Wessex are currently in discussions with North Devon Council and Historic England on the 'approach' to the Grade II-listed former Shapland and Petter factory, which is phase three of the Anchorwood Bank regeneration scheme.

It said: "We are looking to use as much of the existing structure as possible to create a mixed-use development.

"We hope to make a planning application before the end of the year. This will be preceded by an exhibition of plans to gather local community feedback."

Plans for the Oliver Buildings are expected before the end of the year.Plans for the Oliver Buildings are expected before the end of the year.

In addition to the retail units and restaurants, the Anchorwood Bank project will also see 172 homes built on the site.

An update from North Devon Homes, which is delivering the houses, said infrastructure works are continuing on the site, while the build programme will commence once these are complete.