The Baltic Wharf Development comes back into focus with a planning application going in from Acorn Property Group to redevelop the area. The PR from Acorn states:
“The application for a new vision to ‘create a bespoke, high quality and sustainable mixed-use development’, including improving the existing boatyard facilities has been submitted by Baltic Wharf Developments Ltd – a joint venture between Acorn Property Group and TQ9 Partnership LLP. Across a nine-hectare site at the southern end of the town of Totnes, the scheme – coined ‘Riverside at Baltic Wharf’ – will secure the future and ongoing viability of the boatyard, offer the potential for a major employment boost to the town and deliver much needed homes and care home. What’s more, the plans will make access to the river publicly available, open up a private site for public use with a large public plaza and provide new river and hillside walks.”
Not everyone on board…
Posts by Cllr John Birch on social media have generated hundreds of comments. Mostly referencing the lack of affordable house and local infrastructure. One commenter said: “…how many houses have been built in totnes in the last 15 years, does anyone know? This would include: The southern development, Chamomile lawn, Baltic wharf, Houses built on the old coalyard, Culverdale estate, Quayside Guinness home, Nellies wood, Follaton oak, Great Court farm, Houses behind Lloyds back [sic], Co-op site flats, Brimhay, Sawmills phase 1, Sawmills phase 2, Broom park estate. “
how many houses have been built in totnes in the last 15 years, does anyone know?
John Birch told me: “Having seen the Acorn’s development plans I question the merit of its proposals. I believe that the Acorn plans will result in a large amount of overpriced houses that local people do not want and cannot afford, whilst also reducing the boatyard to an unacceptable size and compromising it’s future viability. The planning application submitted by Acorn, which includes 194 dwellings, makes no provision for affordable housing. The adopted local development plan provides for such schemes to have 30% affordable housing. This policy should be adhered and the development should include affordable social housing.”
I put this point to Acorn who responded: “ The provision of affordable housing has been a key driver of this site from the outset. However, the significant abnormal costs of developing this complicated brownfield site put real pressure on the financial viability of delivering affordable housing. This is one of the main reasons why the site has remained undeveloped since its original planning consent over a decade ago. Despite this we have committed to providing a minimum of 31 affordable homes with grant funding as part of this scheme (c.16% of the overall number) and are progressing a deal with a National Housing Association to deliver these homes.”
But John Birch argues: “Acorn in a financial viability assessment claims it will not make enough profit for the scheme to provide affordable housing. It claims its projected profit of just under £13 million is insufficient. This approach that seems to ignore our housing crisis is in my view is not acceptable and is one of several reasons why I believe the application should be turned down by the planners.”
A Centre for Marine Excellence
Cllr Birch has a different vision: “Along with Totnes Town Council we would like to see a Centre of Marine Excellence and Skill built instead that would continue the town’s long association with the sea, and create the potential for 100’s of highly skilled and well-paid jobs for the area. To find out more about this, and about how to lend your support to the proposal, please visit our website.”
Ed Lewis, regional director at Acorn Property Group and on behalf of Baltic Wharf Developments Ltd, comments:“Since we began preparing the proposals for this application in 2020, we have undertaken a significant consultation programme with the District and Local Council, other stakeholder organisations and with the public. We have listened to the thoughts and views of local people and considered the future needs of the town. As a result, we believe this application sets out a scheme which meets these needs, delivers a viable regeneration project compatible with the Local Plan.”
Cllr Birch doesn’t seem to agree: “I would be keen to see the landowners, TQ9 Partnership, engage more with local councillors and the community about the best use for the site. And find a way to deliver some truly affordable housing, while maintaining the viability of the boat yard.”
What about that narrow access?
I asked Acorn about the extensive development being in a space with such restrictive access. Especially noting the bottleneck next to the Steam Packet pub.
They responded: “We have modelled the impact of the proposed development on the highway network and a comparison with the existing, implemented planning permission shows there will be a net increase of 30 two-way vehicle trips in the AM peak and 25 two-way vehicle trips in the PM peak. However, this is not considered to be significant and remains generally in-line with the level of trips that Baltic Wharf Boat Yard has generated historically.” They continue: “We have consulted with Devon Highways during the design development for this site and they requested detailed junction modelling for the junctions at the Bridgetown/ Coronation Rd/ Fore St roundabout and the St Katherine’s Way/Warlands crossroad junction. The modelling concludes that the impact on both junctions is not considered to be significant with minimal impact on queueing and delay.”
Steve Mittler TQ9 Partnership LLP stated “We are pleased that after ten years of trying to deliver the outline permission, Acorn has now developed a scheme that is viable and deliverable. As the boatyard owners, this scheme also provides funding for much needed developments in the marine facilities without which would not otherwise be available.”
The Acorn planning application documents can be found on the SHDC website under reference 3995/23/FUL. The closing date for submitting comments is 22 February 2024.
So do make your views known officially.