A £20million regeneration of Bideford’s historic East-the-Water Wharves is back on the table.
Torridge district councillors were presented with the latest proposals from Red Earth Developments at a private video call meeting last night (Tuesday, May 19).
The plans seek to bring a mix of ‘apartments, retail, design studios, leisure and dining’ to the area currently being used as a Torridge District Council (TDC) car park and the dilapidated Brunswick Wharf.
The long-running saga of the derelict wharves site, owned by the council, goes back almost a decade - Torridge sold the site to Bideford Marina Ltd in 2013, but in 2016 it cut ties with the company, claiming the ‘terms were not met’.
Red Earth was chosen as the new developer in September 2017.
The company said the current designs by architects Herber-Percy and Parker have been created to reflect the history of the wharves as well as to attract visitors to enjoy the proposed quay-side walk, retail and restaurant offerings.
It is planning 85 apartments, seven boutique retail units, one ‘signature restaurant’ overlooking the bridge plus a coffee shop in a central public square, with designs to reflect the shipbuilding history of the site.
There will also be quay-side walk as well as design studios for local artisans with a workshop, retail frontage and living accommodation above.
Red Earth owner Simon Friend said: “It’s very exciting that we’re at the point of consulting with local people about our proposals as we’re really keen to hear what the public and stakeholders have to say about these plans.
“It’s unusual to carry out public consultation before submitting a full planning application, but we want to engage with the local community at this early stage.
“We’ll then be able to put forward a considered full planning application and bring this valued part of Bideford back to life.”
The site was part of Bideford’s shipbuilding heritage and was historically known as Restarick’s Shipyard. Merchant sailing vessels were built here for over 400 years until the shipyard closed in 1886.
It was bought in 1887 by I Baker and Son, merchants, whose name is on the street end of the Brunswick Wharf building.
Mr Friend added: “My own plans to develop this site actually go back to 2012.
“However, at that time another developer was selected and announced plans but this didn’t work out and a few years later they withdrew.
“We jumped at the new opportunity in 2017 because of our connections with Bideford and have been working tirelessly to get to this stage.
“The proposed re-development of the site forms a vital component of wider regeneration plans for Bideford.”