Flood report paves way for Bideford regeneration

THE publication of a long-awaited flood risk report could finally get large scale regeneration under way at five key town centre sites in Bideford. Environment Agency investigations at The Pill, Brunswick Wharf, Bridge Street, the football club at Kingsle

THE publication of a long-awaited flood risk report could finally get large scale regeneration under way at five key town centre sites in Bideford.

Environment Agency investigations at The Pill, Brunswick Wharf, Bridge Street, the football club at Kingsley Road and the former livestock market have given town planners a clearer picture of the development opportunities for each site.

Ambitious proposals first drafted by the Bideford Regeneration Initiative in 2005 look set to be given a new lease of life by the report.

"It's all coming together now and we know what the next steps are to progress development of these sites," said Peter Quincey project manager of the Joint Delivery Team at North Devon+.

"The Environment Agency has looked at the five regeneration sites in the context of flooding and has given us a clear idea of what we can do and what measures we need to take in order to do so.

"We are now in a position to develop far more concrete proposals knowing that they can be delivered."

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A draft version of the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment Level Two report is currently being considered by Torridge District Council. It categorises flood risk from level one - no flood risk - to level three, the most severe risk of flooding.

The Gazette understands that Brunswick Wharf and Bridge Street have both been classified as level one risks, paving the way for possible regeneration in the form of a wet dock for the historic Kathleen and May, quayside shops and cafes, homes and businesses.

The Pill is identified as being a level two risk, meaning obstacles will need to be overcome should proposals for a multi-million pound community hub get the go-ahead.

Development sites at Kingsley Road and the former livestock market are both considered to be at a high risk of flooding - level three - throwing doubt on the viability of new homes, a hotel, offices and the relocation of the town's football club.

But Mr Quincey said the Joint Delivery Team - which has taken over responsibility of the five major Bideford regeneration sites from the Bideford Regeneration Initiative - would be working with the Environment Agency to "test their mettle" and to mitigate the risk at level three sites.

He told the Gazette that the redevelopment of Brunswick Wharf was the Joint Delivery Team's next "top priority".

"It's a three-acre site with continuous river frontage and is one of the best we have in Bideford," he said. "It has enormous scope and we will be looking to draw up a site development brief to attract the maximum investment."

On Saturday, more than 300 shoppers attended an "Expo" in Mill Street which gave people the chance to see what has been achieved to date and to comment on the various proposals in the pipeline.

Among the plans on display were artists' impressions for a new public realm space at Jubilee Square and Cooper Street, which received "overwhelming" support, according to organisers.

Speaking at the event Mayor of Bideford, Cllr Andy Powell, said: "The five main development sites in Bideford had effectively been vetoed pending the Environment Agency's flood risk assessment. But now we have that we can finally see what we can build on each site.

"Brunswick Wharf is a big win for us and we have the opportunity to do something very exciting with that site. The town centre still has so much of its heritage and history; I feel that by looking at the town's past, we can create jobs and promote an exciting future for Bideford.

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