FULL REPORT: Plans approved for new development on East-the-Water Wharves site this morning (Thursday).

Major plans for a marina, shops, restaurants, cafes and housing on Bideford’s Brunswick Wharf have been given the go-ahead this morning (Thursday).

Torridge District Council’s plans committee unanimously approved proposals submitted by Oceanside Developments at a meeting in Bideford Town Hall.

Bideford mayor Mervyn Langmead told the committee the regeneration project would ‘kick start’ a town which was currently ‘dying on its feet’.

“It is a brilliant project for Bideford,” he said.

“We need to put this town back into the 21st century because if we don’t it will just stagnate and close down.”

Celebrity chefs

Councillor Roger Johnson, lead member for economy in Torridge, said he hoped the development would ‘open up’ Bideford and the developer was keen to start.

“There are a lot of wealthy people within 10 miles of Bideford who at the moment have no reason to come into the town.

“I know the developer has been talking to celebrity chefs - he is determined to make this a destination for the whole South West.”

The plans include cafes, shops and restaurants which front onto an open square; a riverside walkway; a flood defence around the site and floating pontoons for boats which would be ‘packed away’ in winter.

Councillors heard the residential units were needed to make the development viable, and that each one would have its own parking space in addition to the public car park.

Some reservations

But some people did not favour the plans. Shirley Hucker, a resident of Barnstaple Street, told councillors the residential buildings would affect her listed property.

She said the residential buildings – which have to be built 2.3m higher due to flood defences – would block her light and devalue her property.

Bideford South councillor David Brenton, who previously campaigned for the town council to buy the land and turn it into a public open space urged councillors to ‘look forward to the future’.

“Save it for when our children will have more imagination, more sense and more money to do something decent over there,” he said.

‘I envy Bideford’

Despite reservations, councillors threw their support behind the project.

“I envy Bideford this opportunity,” said Councillor Margaret Brown, who congratulated the town once the plans were voted through.

“I live in Torrington and we would bite anyone’s hand off if they offered us this development. It’s going to be wonderful.”