Councillor 'sets record straight' on Brunswick Wharf development

Bideford town councillor Joel Herron

Bideford town councillor Joel Herron - Credit: Torridge Common Ground

A Bideford town councillor opposed to plans currently under consideration to redevelop Brunswick Wharf in Bideford would like to ‘set the record straight’ and explain his reasons for opposing the development. 

Independent councillor Joel Herron contacted the Gazette following last week’s endorsement of developer Red Earth’s plan for Brunswick Wharf by local hotelier Richard Brend

“I was one of a majority in the committee who voted against the proposed Brunswick Wharf development by Red Earth. This vote has caused a stir in the community - those expressing opinions on either side of the argument and many describing the council committee's perspective as out of touch or resistant to change. 

“I’d like to set the record straight that I am all for development but that which has gained a full understanding and agreement of the community, which happens at the right time, in the right place and for the greatest benefit for all.  

“The site at Brunswick Wharf has been empty for decades and over this time the discussion around its development has become tired and angry. I can understand that people are willing to jump at an offer of change.   

“To my mind, the proposed Red Earth development won’t improve the lives of the people of Bideford but rather the lives of people from cities who can afford the luxury flats on offer. It’s likely that many of them will act as second homes and while visitors will bring money to the town, they won’t contribute fully to the community.  

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“I have spoken to the other members of Bideford Planning Committee in the writing of this piece. Some are torn about the decision, others are still firm in their concerns - about parking, affordable housing, access for waste and recycling, the threat of climate change to housing stock beside the river.  

“Where is the affordable housing? Our local plan currently recommends that there should be 30% affordable housing in every new development but this one is somehow able to opt out of this commitment. 

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“Do people really think that those with big pay cheques should have exclusive access to beautiful places to live? Why can’t a nurse or a policeman have an opportunity to bid to live in a place like this? 

“The development offers retail opportunities. But we already have plenty of empty units along the High Street and in Mill Street and the impact of Covid offers a dim near future for small retailers. Their future success relies on an understanding of the shifting nature of town centres.   

“The Red Earth Development will certainly remove the stain of a derelict sight - the beauty of the plan is open to interpretation. This will be an exclusive development with limited access for the public on a prime location that could be a centre of learning, heritage and culture which would greatly benefit Bideford into the future. 

“Why aren’t we thinking about the next one hundred years instead of the quick buck that we can make now? Why aren’t we building a slow steady foundation of educated trained constituents that can help rebuild the town from the inside out and put it back on the map with a purpose. The people of Bideford are worth much more than a luxury development.” 

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