A brand new riverside walkway is expected to open in Barnstaple later this month. The walkway - part of the new Anchorwood Bank development - will give members of the public access to the southern banks of the River Taw for the first time in living memory. Site developer Wessex Investors said the walkway would become a 'true asset' for the town. "This is the first part of the site to open and will create an attractive new route along the south bank of the River Taw, joining the Tarka Trail with the Long Bridge," said spokesperson Lucie Brailsford. "The route will be open to both cyclists and those on foot and is the first time in many years that users will have had access to the riverside in this area with its attractive views of Barnstaple town centre. "We believe the walkway will be a true asset for the town and look forward to welcoming locals and visitors alike." An official opening date will be announced following a safety audit by Devon County Council. The new walkway will also act as a major flood defence for the huge retail and residential currently under development. A new Asda supermarket - expected to open by the end of the year - will be joined by fashion retailer Next, and national restaurant chains Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito, as well as 166 new homes. The southern banks of the Taw have a long shipbuilding heritage and most recently, were home to the Westacott Ship Yard, founded in the 1840s to build wooden ships on a site close to Long Bridge. The Westacott family then went on to found the Taw Ship Yard to the west of the original yard, to build concrete ships and, later, steel coasters. Shapland & Petter took over the disused Westacott yard in 1888, following a fire at the firm's original premises in Pilton and, by 1904, had constructed a range of factory buildings on the site. Shapland & Petter merged with Leaderflush in 1998 and the factory eventually closed in 2012.