Developer 'lost for words' as town council rejects £20m Bideford wharf plans

A graphic of how the Brunswick Wharf development in Bideford could appear

A graphic of how the Brunswick Wharf development in Bideford could appear - Credit: Red Earth

Multi-million plans to transform Bideford’s Brunswick wharf have stumbled at the first hurdle after being recommended for refusal by town councillors. 

The planning meeting on Wednesday, January 6 voted unanimously to turn down the £20million application, citing loss of car parking and lack of affordable housing among the reasons. 

This is only a recommendation and the final decision will be made by Torridge District Council later this year. 

Developer Red Earth has lodged plans for 85 apartments, five design studios, a restaurant, a café, eight boutique retail units, plus a new landscaped public square and a riverside walk on the derelict East-the-Water site. 

Simon Friend of Red Earth said he was 'almost at a loss for words’ over the meeting result. 

He said: “This piece of land has been derelict for years. So many local people have encouraged us, saying it would transform the whole vista of the riverside and be a major step forward for the town.  

“What’s really confusing are the erroneous reasons for recommending rejection. Some are ill judged, others just difficult to comprehend and they didn’t approach me to discuss their concerns.” 

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Councillor Doug Bushby, who is on the town council planning committee, said there were concerns the existing large car park that serves East-the-Water would be lost. 

He said the development would contain no affordable housing whatsoever and told the Gazette: “It was felt by a few people that there could be a more imaginative use of that land rather than just apartments. 

“The site is rich in history, of what Bideford is as a ship building port town and all the other industries that have gone on there, so it was felt the site could have bene used as something far more beneficial to the residents and people of Bideford.” 
But Mr Friend said: “This is all about the people of Bideford and the surrounding district and a vital step forward for the area’s regeneration.

“We want them to be proud of it and invited all interested parties, especially the residents of Bideford and East-the-Water, to have their say.”  

Responding to the objections, he said the plans included provision for 103 private and 45 public spaces as well as 173 cycle stands. 

He said it had been made clear social housing wasn’t part of the plans, but the development would invest in flood defences as well as a new quay-side walk and a landscaped public square. 

He said: “There was never a suggestion that this would be a social housing project in any shape or form so I can’t understand the reason to cite that now. 

“I am at a loss to understand why the town council would want to reject this amazing opportunity, which has so much public support.  

“It is the first truly viable scheme for this site in 20 years. Do they just want to see it sit derelict and forlorn for another 20?” 

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