NewsPulseTotnes Town

Acorn Submit Planning Permission for Controversial Baltic Wharf

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.”

Baltic Wharf Totnes
Baltic Wharf as it is today

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?

Baltic Wharf Development CGI from Acorn
The Acorn View

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.

What are your thoughts on this? Comment Below.

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Peter Gavin
Peter Gavin
2 months ago

This is a disaster for Totnes.
Baltic Wharf is and should remain a marine centre of excellence and not be turned into a housing estate of what will be ugly second homes.

Just take a look at the houses built at the back all of which seem to be disintegrating.

Acorn are lying through their teeth when they say they will maintain what’s left of the boatyard. Its is not commercially viable for it to operate at a third of its current size, and they know this.

We already know that any plans to build affordable houses have been dropped as there simply isn’t enough profit in them for the developers.
Baltic Wharf is part of the cultural heritage of Totnes and could be improved with this in mind.

The project is built on greed by people with no concern for our beautiful town. How about some philanthropism.

Christine Tilbury
Christine Tilbury
3 months ago

Please do not allow this horrendous boring building plan to take our last remaining reminder of a Totnes that was. Ghastly blocks of uninteresting housing totally out of keeping with the town and the area. It would finally make Totnes just another town too full of people and traffic to visit at any time of the year. I so agree with all the comments already made on this page. Yes Sarah Lawrence.. so sad!

Steve Goodman
Steve Goodman
3 months ago

Utter bullshit! Most of them will end up as 2nd homes or AirB’n’Bs with nothing for people who grew up in, or have lived in Totnes for years. After building the homes, soon after will be the widening of the roads, and more destruction of the countryside for the ‘Chelsea tractors’

Last edited 3 months ago by Steve Goodman
Sarah Lawrence
Sarah Lawrence
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Goodman

Yes, I know of many long term residents of Totnes who have been forced to leave due to people converting properties to Airbnbs or wanting to sell them off at the top of the market to the highest bidder. There are no truly affordable homes in the town or surrounding areas and any social housing has a ridiculously high number of applications (I heard of one flat that had 137 applicants). Totnes is now a town for those who can afford to be here. The atmosphere is changing daily, but there is little or no investment in the infrastructure or the physical structure (eg, the town square is literally crumbling). I have lived here for nearly 40 years but I don’t think I’ll be staying much longer. So sad.

3 months ago

I have utterly had enough with the utter destruction of the town I was born in and still live in. They take and take and take for their own profit, provide no infrastructure to cope, ruin the town, I loath these people. How dare they just keep building on every piece of space. No one who was born here can afford to live here. Can no one stop them?

Alison Irens
Alison Irens
3 months ago

Surely retaining the boat yard is vital. It generates work and a necessary resource for all boat owners.
The land itself is not suitable for house building as it’s situated on loose shale from river deposits. Any building would need such deep foundations and may suffer from subsidence in the years after completion.

Helen Tune
Helen Tune
3 months ago

194 dwellings that they estimate will generate 30 additional vehicle journeys through the bottleneck at Steamer Quay at rush-hour? Surely this is either a misprint or a lie?

Tw9Anne Moore
Tw9Anne Moore
3 months ago
Reply to  Helen Tune

I agree. The bottleneck extends up to the roundabout and beyond at rush hour. The people who can afford these homes are likely to be in the 2 car per household bracket, so a possible near 400 extra cars going through the plains area, or increasing the Lamb rat-run, which is becoming more and more dangerous with cars speeding round the corner at the top, with no pedestrian crossing there either.

Celia Minoughan
Celia Minoughan
4 months ago

I agree with Councillor John Birch that this development should not go ahead. This week I posted an objection on South Hams District Council’s website (ref 3995/23/FUL) and I encourage others to look at the planning application. I strongly object to this proposal for high density ultra modern five-storey blocks of flats on Totnes historic riverside, with no affordable homes included. The proposed development of expensive flats would not include the right kind of housing for Totnes. Over 300 vehicles on the site would create traffic jams on the road from the boatyard site to the Steam Packet junction and on to New Walk and the Plains. The closing date for objections is 22nd February 2024.

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