We are over the moon, crazy delightedly thrilled to learn that we've been successful in our application to the government's Coastal Community Fund for £5 million to build East Quay!
The decision made by CCF, comes from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and shows the huge level of support they have for community-led regeneration, where local people have collaborated to create truly ambitious and game changing plans to create sustainable economic growth and provide jobs.
The development includes 14 workshop/studio/enterprise units for a wide variety of businesses, artists and makers. It will include a new print studio, a geology workshop from geology and ecology company, Geckoella and a working handmade paper mill, where Two Rivers Paper will produce handmade paper on site, demonstrating the process to visitors. The development will also include a double storey gallery for Contains Art, community space and a bistro-style restaurant, outdoor events space and self-catering accommodation ‘pods’.
It will deliver 37 new jobs to the area, including 5 apprenticeships, it will safeguard 17 jobs and provide a further 70 in temporary construction jobs. It will also provide an estimated 109 indirect jobs the area due to the increased tourism spend. The development will bring an estimated £6.7 million in additional tourism spend to the area.
This is extraordinarily exciting news and a powerful message for how regeneration in coastal towns should be conceived and delivered. These plans have been developed very closely with our local community, and are clearly about what our town needs for a stronger future. It also shows how this type of development can only be achieved through great collaboration with our District Council and our local community organisations, who have all shown enormous support. Importantly, it will show that rural areas are deserving of the finest public buildings, and that access to nationally important art shouldn’t just be for those who live in cities - and it will help return economic prosperity to our area.
Brendan Cleere, Head of Localities at West Somerset Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council, said:
“This is fantastic news for Watchet and West Somerset. We have forged a very strong working partnership with the Onion Collective, which will continue as the scheme moves into delivery and the new Somerset West and Taunton Council is created.
West Somerset Council supported the Onion Collective’s bid by agreeing a lease of land at East Quay, together with a loan facility of up to £1.5m. I am delighted that the strength of Onion Collective’s bid has now attracted such well-deserved and resounding support from Government. This scheme will transform Watchet into a destination that supports tourism, culture, employment, skills development and growth and promote the regeneration of the whole area”
Architect Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio said:
“The development at East Quay in Watchet initiated by Onion Collective represents an extraordinary opportunity to bring about enormous change in the area of the United Kingdom with the lowest levels of social mobility. It has been amazing to have been associated with this project, and to have had the opportunity to design a series of buildings where the brief was to think out of the box and to create something that was truly of this place, was unlike any other normative architecture in any other context. I’m really proud to have worked with the Onion Collective and the entire community of Watchet whom the Onion Collective brought with them on this scheme, and can’t wait now to build it.”
The project has been carefully planned following years of consultations with local people, during which time it has been adapted to meet the needs and shared priorities of the community. The development will take up one third of the quayside space.
The scheme has been designed by award winning architect Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio, alongside executive architects Ellis Williams Architects. High quality public realm designs by LT Studio Landscape Architects celebrates both the industrial roots and the maritime setting of the development.
Planning permission was granted in June 2018, by unanimous and emphatic support of the West Somerset Council Planning Committee, and the powerful endorsement of the South West Design Review Panel, in which they described East Quay as a “fabulous scheme that deserves to be a triumph.” In February this year West Somerset and Taunton Deane Borough Council agreed the provision of a £1.5 million loan to cover the remaining match funding. It is hoped the build will start in the autumn, and plan to open doors in 2021.
If you would like to know more about the project please click here
Images: Invisible Studio