Plans to redevelop Barnstaple’s Oliver Buildings have been unanimously approved by councillors.

The Oliver Buildings occupy a prime riverside site in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy KeebleThe Oliver Buildings occupy a prime riverside site in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy Keeble

It followed a recommendation for approval to create new homes, restaurants and commercial space that was heard at North Devon Council's planning committee today (Wednesday, March 11)

Councillors were asked by officers to consider whether regenerating the Anchorwood Bank site and preserving the Oliver Buildings for the future outweighed any harm to the Grade II listed former home of Shapland and Petter and the conservation area.

Now developer Acorn Property Group hope to start work on site as early as June this year, subject to negotiating planning conditions with the council.

The building will be redeveloped into 47 apartments, shops and restaurants, and the riverside area will include kiosks and market stalls.

The Oliver Buildings at Anchorwood Bank have been derelict for some years.The Oliver Buildings at Anchorwood Bank have been derelict for some years.

The plans also include a tower-building which was initially proposed as six storeys when the plans were first submitted in January 2019, but following opposition from Historic England was scaled back twice and is now four storeys.

The intent is to have residential apartments on the upper floors and commercial space on the ground floor on the main Oliver Buildings.

The proposals include plans for 'high quality' public areas that would include a square or piazza as well as green space.

The general mood among councillors was 'let's get it done'.

Cllr Jasmine Chesters said: 'I really think this is really important to north Devon and we need to get this done.'

Barnstaple mayor and Long Bridge ward member Alan Rennles spoke on behalf of the town council and urged them to approve the plans.

He said: 'The town council feel that this is a workable solution to the horrendous long-term problem that has been in front of us.'

A member of the public, Tim Street, did speak to ask the councillors to consider removing the tower block element because he felt it was not in keeping with the area.

Cllr Malcolm Prowse was in full support, he said: 'To be fair to those who have developed Anchorwood Bank I think they have come up with a fantastic plan. We now have a design that mirrors the building.'

Andrew Pegg, managing director of Wessex Investors, spoke on behalf of the application. Afterwards, he said they were very pleased at the decision and hoped to deliver something that would be a gateway between the town and Anchorwood Bank.

He added: 'We want the Oliver Buildings to be a landmark for the town to be proud of.'