£11 million bid to get Barnstaple's heart beating again

Picture of how part of Barnstaple town could like with regeneration project

An artists impression of the transformation of Butchers Row. - Credit: North Devon Council

An £11 million regeneration project is poised to breathe new life into Barnstaple’s town centre to make it fit for the 21st century. 

Councillors have agreed to financially support the once-in-a-lifetime transformation which is set to be delivered by March, 2024. 

North Devon Council will invest £4.4 million to support a £6.5 million funding package from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Streets initiative. 

The extra council investment will mean that all four projects which were included in the funding bid can now go ahead. 

North Devon had requested £9.45 million for the schemes but were awarded 69 per cent of the overall cash application. 

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But the council, meeting entirely in private on Wednesday, agreed to borrow the shortfall in the budget to enable all four projects to be completed. 

The improvement schemes form the ‘Market Quarter’, which was developed with the aim of transforming the town into one where residents have access to good quality retail, leisure and open spaces, local businesses thrive in fit-for-purpose spaces and visitors want to visit and spend money. 

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The scheme would provide a direct link from the Queen Street/Bear Street car park to the Pannier Market, high street and through to the river front. 

The Market Quarter project will address a derelict listed building and facade on Boutport Street by regenerating the listed building and providing a new gateway directly from the car park through to Butchers Row. 

The project also incorporates a plan to pedestrianise between 10am and 4pm and make improvements to Butchers Row and Cross Street and aims to maximise the opportunities within the Pannier Market and the Guildhall with options to redefine the space and improve facilities within. 

The plan is to give a new heart to Barnstaple, making it a unique destination that will boost footfall to the high street and provide an enhanced experience for residents and visitors, a council spokesman said. 

Cllr Malcolm Prowse, lead member for economic development and strategic planning policy at North Devon Council, said: “We are excited to be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity to transform Barnstaple town centre. 

“We are confident that borrowing this money is the right decision for North Devon as it will enable us to embark on an exciting course of improvements for Barnstaple, starting with the Market Quarter, which is brilliant news for everyone who lives and works in the town, not to mention our tourists and visitors.” 

Cllr Robbie Mack, who represents the Barnstaple Central Ward, added: “We need a bold and ambitious project so Barnstaple can become the social and economic hub it should be. It will connect the whole town centre and provide more welcoming access for pedestrians and car park users to a newly revitalised Market Quarter. It’s a sustainable plan to safeguard the town’s future in the long term.” 

The Market Quarter improvements were developed following extensive consultation with the public, local businesses and other key stakeholders who were asked their views on a number of proposals and given the opportunity to voice any changes and improvements they would like to see in Barnstaple town centre. The feedback from the consultation was then analysed by consultants Lavigne Lonsdale, who went on to develop the Market Quarter projects together with the council. 

The fund from MHCLG is provisional at this stage and the council will now work with the government department to ensure the funding is secured and the project can be delivered by March of 2024. 

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