North Devon councillors approved the Anchorwood Bank development at a planning meeting today.

An artist's impression of how the food and retail area at Anchorwood Bank will lookAn artist's impression of how the food and retail area at Anchorwood Bank will look

North Devon Councillors have approved plans for new shops and restaurants at Anchorwood Bank in Barnstaple.

The decision was made this morning (Wednesday) at the council's planning meeting at Barnstaple Rugby Club.

The Anchorwood Bank site will now be able to accommodate up to 7150 sq m of retail space, as well as 1116 sq m of restaurant and café floor space.

Developers are now looking to get on site and complete infrastructure work 'as soon as possible' with a view to opening the retail park as soon as late 2017.

Artist's impression of the completed Anchorwood Bank developmentArtist's impression of the completed Anchorwood Bank development

Managing director Andrew Pegg said: "We're very pleased that the councillors and members recognise the overall benefit to Barnstaple and how this scheme should compliment the town centre and should improve the economy and the profile of the town in the long term.

"It actually keeps people in Barnstaple because of the quality of the retail offer, rather than have people having to go to Exeter or Plymouth and leave the area."Now there's a lot of work to do for the next stage, in delivering it and putting it to life, but we look forward to finishing the job we started all those years ago."

Councillor Frank Biederman was one of the councillors to approve the application.

During the meeting, cllr Biederman said: "With the right branding, this can become an extension of the High Street.

"If we can get more foot-fall into the town it can create more opportunities for small shop owners in Barnstaple."

The plan has been approved with the condition that connectivity between the Anchorwood site and Barnstaple Town centre can be properly addressed.

The Gazette previously reported that Frankie and Benny's and Chiquito's had agreed terms for the lease of two restaurant units at the development.

Developers also confirmed today that DFS will be joining Next as a retailer at the site.

The meeting also saw plans approved for a 166-home riverside residential development.

Work will now commence on the development, which was submitted by North Devon Homes and Pearce Homes, in October this year, with units expected by Christmas 2017.