Plans to redevelop Bideford’s East-the-Water wharves have taken a step forward.

Plans to redevelop Brunswick Wharf in Bideford are back on track, as the council appoints a new developer.Plans to redevelop Brunswick Wharf in Bideford are back on track, as the council appoints a new developer.

Torridge District Council has signed a contract with Red Earth Developments Ltd to regenerate the historic wharves.

The proposed scheme is set to provide a public quayside walk, a large public square with restaurants and shops, and residential accommodation.

The next stage will see Red Earth submit its design for the site to Torridge's planning department, with a public consultation expected prior to a planning application.

The overall investment is likely to be in the region of £20million.

Simon Friend, owner and managing director of Red Earth, said: "I am delighted that councillors have placed their trust in my bid to deliver this landmark mixed-use scheme for this prestigious site and with my team, we will carry out a phase of public consultation prior to finalising the detailed planning application.

"I am committed to seeing new life being breathed into this wonderful site and area of Bideford which will bring a sense of restoration to what was once the working heart of the town.

"Our plans will complement the town centre and support the council's economic regeneration programme."

A joint statement from Torridge District Council leader Councillor Anna Dart, and deputy leader Councillor Ken James, said: "We are delighted that we have finally signed the contract with Red Earth.

"This has been a lengthy process but this is a key regeneration site for Bideford town centre and we were determined to find the right developer for the site, one who is prepared to make a substantial investment in the site and deliver a plan that was most closely aligned with the council's vision of how the site should be developed.

"With possible new funding on offer to Bideford from the Future High Streets Fund this is the perfect time for Torridge District Council to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the economic regeneration of Bideford and we hope that everybody will get behind and support this exciting new development for Torridge."

However, the move has been criticised by some.

Council chairman David Brenton said councillors in Torridge's new administration had been 'deceived' over the exchange of the contract, having not been able to debate the matter at a public meeting.

"On two occasions we were assured there would be no formal agreement until there has been a chance to debate it," said Cllr Brenton.

"There's a huge potential for the area, but there's no need for expensive weekender apartments. There's nothing in it for local people."