A ‘car graveyard’ in Bideford town centre could be transformed into a new attraction with event and food and drink space and housing, if a Government funding bid is successful.
Torridge District Council is finalising its proposals for a £4.29million share of the Government’s £1billion Future High Street Fund.
Its ‘Isaac’s Yard’ proposal would see a piece of land between Cooper Street, Mill Street, Bridgeland Street and Queen Street redeveloped.
A report to councillors said the development was a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ for Bideford, and would be an ‘enjoyable new anchor attraction’ as the town shifts away from ‘pure retail’.
The development, which totals £9.6million, would see the current Heard’s garage building redeveloped into a covered events space and a food and drink hub.
A community hub run by One Northern Devon is also included, as are a series of work spaces, and a ‘cultural anchor’.
It will be accessible from Mil Street, Cooper Street and Queen Street and will have a publicly controlled courtyard garden.
The proposal also includes the development of 16 homes, of which five would be affordable, and a Queen Street property would be turned into temporary accommodation for the council.
If the council’s bid is successful it is hoped elements of the site could be in use by summer 2021, with building expected to last until the end of 2023.
The bid is being discussed at a full Torridge District Council meeting on Monday (July 27), with councillors minded to increase the council’s capital programme and its external borrowing limit to accommodate the scheme.
The proposals have been welcomed. Local ward member, Councillor Doug Bushby, said: “Our proposed development, known by its project name as Issac’s Yard, will lead to a transformation of not only the town centre but of the whole of Bideford.
“The enthusiasm from everyone involved has been excellent and if nothing comes from our bid the fact that we have found something to unite us as a community will be long lasting.
“A development of this nature in an area of the town rarely seen by anyone will add so much to the existing street scene and will give a much-needed boost to the economy of the whole town.”
In a letter of support, Bideford Bay Chamber of Commerce president Jane Maynard said:
“It has been clear for many years that Bideford has needed a flagship project to assist in the regeneration, and in turn, address the deprivation issues of the town, and indeed the whole of Torridge. The Isaac’s Yard project gives just that.
“Now, more than at any time in recent history, we need to give reasons for people to come here and spend their money locally and contribute to the ongoing recovery of the region.
“This is a project capable of being the catalyst to change and to bring greater prosperity for businesses and individuals alike and this Chamber is in full support of the bid.”