A picture of shared priorities for Watchet
We have now completed Our first round of consultations. Asking the question ‘What do you think Watchet needs for a stronger future?’ Onion Collective held a series of ‘ideas storming’ sessions during April and May, with the aim of understanding Watchet's shared priorities for regeneration. The results of these meetings, together with the responses from the public questionnaire and feedback from social media and public ‘drop in’ sessions have produced a broad picture of community priorities for the future of Watchet.
The top three priorities to come out of these sessions were: To improve the visitor offer, create more opportunities for jobs and enterprise and to improve or increase community space and facilities. High on the list was, building on the history and heritage of Watchet, improving footpaths and walkways, creating a vibrant ‘buzz’ for the town, complementing marine industries, enhancing the entrance to the town around the Cross area, and bringing people together. Arts and the creative industries also came out very strongly; expanding Contains Art was a popular idea, as well as creating some sort of performance space. Creating art / craft or light industrial workshops that had the capability to display and sell work made on the premises was also popular.
Onion Collective Director Jessica Prendergrast said:
“What came through really strongly from all of the work we have done is that Watchet people want to see the assets of the town, both old and new, enhanced and promoted. They remain really positive about its future and that there is something truly special about the place that needs to be built from rather than replaced.”
As well as shared priorities we have heard some fabulous and ambitious ideas – from a Lido on the East Quay, a cable car from Splash Point to making bricks from the mud in the harbour!
Some interesting responses from the survey include:
“I think it needs more going on to attract visitors, and keep them coming back. It needs cafes and bars that look out over the harbour, and make the most of this beautiful town.”
“More jobs and activities for young people”
“A village hall which was also an education centre for students to come and learn about the fossils and history of the area.
One question in the public survey asked what 3 words best describe Watchet? Some of the most common words included:
“Quirky” “Friendly” “Vibrant” “Historic” “Shabby” “Seaside” and “Community”.
Now that a strong ‘ideas bank’ has been created which is rooted in the desires and aspirations of the town as a whole, as well as a greater understanding for how Watchet locals view their town, work can now start on envisioning a plan. An important factor for a plan for Watchet is to work out how any proposed scheme could be financially resilient. Viability and sustainability will be the key to success, and to a certain extent this will define what is and what isn’t possible. Onion Collective aim to have a development proposal ready in time for autumn/winter 2014, which will be ‘oven ready’ to apply for large scale capital funding.