Plans to demolish and redevelop Barnstaple Civic Centre finally submitted

The current North Devon Civic Centre

The current North Devon Civic Centre - Credit: NPA Visuals

Long awaited plans for the demolition and replacement of a huge building widely considered to be one of the ugliest in Devon have finally been unveiled.

The Civic Centre on the banks of the River Taw in Barnstaple has been sat empty since 2016 when owners Devon County Council withdrew their staff from the property. That followed the relocation of North Devon Council staff to new premises at Brynsworthy on the outskirts of Barnstaple back in 2015.

The 10-storey 1960s built office block has been empty ever since, but Churchill Retirement Living Limited have now submitted plans for the site at North Walk.

Artist impression of the proposed redevelopment of the North Devon Civic Centre

Artist impression of the proposed redevelopment of the North Devon Civic Centre - Credit: NPA Visuals

Their scheme, submitted this week to North Devon Council planners, would see the building partially demolished, and then subsequently redeveloped into a five and six storey retirement living development comprising 77 retirement apartments including communal facilities, access, car parking and landscaping.

The proposed development comprises of 49 one-bedroom apartments and 28 two-bedroom apartments, with a statement in support of the application saying that it is acknowledged that there is a ‘critical’’ need for the delivery of older people housing, and a significant pressing need within the administrative boundary of the council, to which the proposal will contribute towards delivering these much needed homes, including older people housing.

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It adds: “This planning application delivers a plethora of public benefits that weigh significantly in favour of the planning application proposals. Through appropriate mitigation detailed within the planning application. The proposed development does not result in any adverse effect and therefore is acceptable.

“The proposed development will include a high-quality landscape amenity space in the form of a communal garden area which will be maintained in perpetuity by the management company, ‘Millstream Management’. In addition, balconies for occupiers will be provided along with a communal seating terrace off of the owners’ lounge.

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“The building is vacant and isn’t in use and it has been demonstrated that to reuse the building for an employment use would render any tenancy of the existing or future conversion of the building to other employment uses unviable and no longer provides a realistic prospect for employment uses.

“The shortfall in the housing land supply is demonstrable and weighs heavily in favour of the loss of the existing building and redevelopment for residential development, and the development takes the opportunity to enhance and does not result in harm to the heritage significances of the designated heritage assets, and the proposed development would be sensitive to and conserve the surrounding townscape and landscape character.”

North Devon Council planners will determine the fate of the application at a later date. While the building is described as ‘iconic’, many locals believe the huge building is one of the ugliest in Devon.

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