When Torridge District Council noted the East-the-Water Wharves as important for the economic regeneration of the whole town, the vision for the Brunswick Wharf Development was born. Red Earth Developments has been keen to take on this project since 2012 and is resolved to regenerate the area with the essence of Bideford in mind.
Following a successful public consultation in June 2020 and further design development resulting from feedback given, Red Earth is delighted to say that as of 31st March 2021 Torridge District Council has granted planning permission.
Red Earth’s vision is to transform a currently bleak and under-utilised area into a vibrant new heart for the community, which aims to complement, not compete with the town centre. The proposals aim for excellence in design, respect for the historical significance of the wharves and the highest sustainability standards. The proposals will provide homes and a leisure destination that will be a wonderful addition to Bideford’s built landscape.
The layout of the development will create three open sided squares – two private and one public – linked by a quayside walk along the entire frontage of the site. The site has been designed with full accessibility in mind and green landscaped areas, including dramatic vertical green walls, provide important net gain in biodiversity.
The public square will have retail, a restaurant and design studios around the three edges with different levels giving form and interest for visitors. A coffee house sits central to the square and its design form references the shipbuilding history of the site. We intend to commission Sandy Brown, a local ceramicist with an international reputation, to design a vibrant sculpture within this public space.
The overall design of the new buildings aims to respect the form of the historic wharves with the main buildings, like the current Brunswick Wharf building, presented at right angles to the river with breaks between to allow views through to Barnstaple Street.
All the parking will be located in an undercroft car park, keeping the main areas of the public and private squares free for pedestrians.
The yellow shows where the new proposed buildings would be superimposed on the positions of the wharf buildings present in 1937.
The East-the-Water Wharves site was part of Bideford’s shipbuilding heritage and was historically known as Restarick’s Shipyard. Merchant sailing vessels were built here for over 400 years until the shipyard closed in 1886.
The former WCA Mill building, constructed in 1894 was hailed as proof of Bideford’s rapid development and popularity. A newspaper article from the time noted that the building was the largest of its kind in North Devon and marvelled at its construction signalling a new age of development. From photographs it was clearly prominent in views from the west side of the river.
We want to celebrate Bideford’s history of creativity and innovation with another new age of development. Though none of our buildings are as wide or tall as the WCA Mill building!
The site was bought in 1887 by I. Baker and Son, builders merchants, whose name is on the street end of the Brunswick Wharf building. This plaque will be retained in the New Brunswick Wharf Building.
The Wharves were used for imports and exports of goods such as tobacco, clay, wool, textiles and earthenware products from nearby potteries. The open space of the yard will be enhanced and become the new public square, opening off Barnstaple Street. Red Earth is keen to be sympathetic to the history of the Wharves, not only in terms of building form – but by recognising its evolving history and uses which has always centred on creativity & ingenuity.
Bideford has very strong links with clay, historically via the traditional slipware which was made in the area. Ships still export clay from Peters Marland and other local pits to Russia and Germany.
Red Earth wants to involve local artists and, in conjunction with The Burton at Bideford, plans to run a competition in 2021 if we achieve planning consent. The commission opportunities would range from murals/clay reliefs, railings & gates, benches & historical information boards – where we would work closely with the Way of the Wharves charity.
For the main square, we intend to commission Sandy Brown, a local internationally acclaimed ceramicist, to create a striking sculpture.