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Deadline extension for Watchet's East Quay development
A DEADLINE set in April in a bid to galvanise a long-overdue development at Watchet’s East Quay has been extended for yet another three months.
West Somerset Council gave developers Urban Splash until July 31 to complete negotiations with the marina operator, Tim Taylor of Watchet Harbour Marina Ltd, but councillors agreed to that being extended to October 31.
It all comes more than a decade after the marina first opened and its regeneration was declared a priority by the district council.
But progress has been made in recent weeks, through discussions between Urban Splash, the marina operator and the council, not least on the issue of car parking space.
The developers have said a compromise of scaling down their original proposal for 36 apartments to 30 apartments to reduce the parking provision from 45 to 32 would be possible, while retaining the retail element on the ground floor.
Tim Taylor has also expressed an interest in demolishing the former cargo shed and erecting a new building on the site.
Loretta Whetlor, chair of Watchet Town Council, welcomes news of progress but said people in the town deserve work on the quay to start as soon as possible.
She said: “We want what is best for Watchet and for something to be done in the near future so the town is able to go forward after waiting for something to happen since 2001.
“I know the Watchet ward members on the district council have been working very hard to get the best solution for the people of Watchet.
“It is good news that things are moving because at long last we will have something built on the East Quay which will enhance and enliven that area, and the retail element bringing jobs to the town can only be a good thing.
“Let’s hope that what’s done is what’s best for the people of Watchet.”
But community interest company Onion Collective, which set out alternative proposals for the area earlier this year, could be missing out as a result of the deadline being extended.
They were offered provisional feasibility funding of £80,000 from the Single Investment Business (SIB) programme to explore mixing marine and creative industries at the site, dependant on West Somerset Council cutting its ties with Urban Splash.
Director Naomi Griffith said: “We can’t do anything until the council makes a decision one way or the other.
“We were lucky enough that SIB held the money for us until August. We will request that they do the same again, but there is no guarantee they will be able to.
“The extension is disappointing if it means we lose this funding opportunity, because these things don’t come along very often.”
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