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On July 30th 2008 Urban Splash have submitted new, very detailed plans for the redevelopment of Watchet's prize land - The East Wharf.

The two previous planning applications had been withdrawn before they came in front of the Planning Committee of West Somerset Council.

The first application was fatally flawed and was so poorly thought out as to be unworkable. The second application was withdrawn because it did not consider properly the existing users of the land and more importantly, received overwhelming local opposition as being out of keeping with the area and far too massive a structure. Further issues were to do with Health and Safety along with car parking and road access.

This does mean that all previous OBJECTIONS AND SUBMISSIONS to both Planning and the Government Office of the South West ARE NULL AND VOID - the application they refer to has been WITHDRAWN.

Now the NEW application has been submitted, all objections and submissions previously submitted will HAVE TO BE SENT IN AGAIN, changed as neccesary, AS IN PLANNING RULES IT WILL BE TOTALLY DIFFERENT PLANNING APPLICATION!

Unfortunately, even this new design is generally thought to be totally unacceptable as well, being overbearing and an abominable blot on a beautiful landscape of an ancient harbour town. Below are all the documents, which are in the Public Domain.

NOTE WELL THAT THE WHARF BUILDINGS ARE SEVEN STORIES TALL !! (and their height has increased by ONE METRE because of flooding concerns!) Also note the proposed changes to Washford Cross

Whilst everyone agrees that the East Wharf needs urgent redevelopment, sadly West Somerset Council appear to be more interested in obtaining money and "credence" for themselves, rather than really improving the town of Watchet by planning a sympathetic and in-keeping development. It is of interest that West Somerset Council also planned a "enhancement" of Watchet Esplanade, assuming, with complete contempt of all the rules that they could just do it without Planning and Conservation Area consent! Luckily a High Court challenge has stopped the most disturbing part of this project, showing it is possible to stop the headlong rush that West Somerset Council are in to do just what they want without consideration of the town and its residents.

The views from the amenity area on Watchet's headland towards the harbour and town will be lost - all that will be visible are the top floors of the new building, whilst from the harbour front and Esplanade, the headland and cliff face will be completely obscured. Clicking on the links below will open the relevant document in a new page, whilst right clicking and selecting "save as" will save a copy onto your computer for printing or whatever.

If you find any inconsistencies in the WSC planning documents, both factual or conceptual, these can be valid planning objections. However, time is SHORT, so please act quickly.

Be warned, some documents are quite long and some are copyright of Urban Splash. They can only be used for personal use, such as in planning objections and public discussion. They must not be re-distributed for any other purpose.

At the end of the list of documents is a detailed report from a professional planning consultant. This is very technical and is laid out in the rather abrupt fashion for legal reasons. Should the Planning Committee decide to ignore the issues it contains, it will provide a basis for an appeal to the Government Office of the South West to "call in" the planning decision should guidelines and rules have been broken.

This document has been developed over several months and has cost a concerned group of individuals several thousand pounds already - and they are sharing it with Watchet residents for free. However, should these documents be of use, a contribution towards these costs would be very gratefully accepted! Please call 01984 634565 or make a donation at the Post Office towards the cause.

Please, if you are going to object, pick just one or two of the issues and write in detail, quoting any of the references that are relevant - it would be much better than loads of very similar letters. However, if you do not feel up to this, please feel free to email me, and I will do my best to help.

What would appear to be the most critical issues are:-

1)   All developments of 5 or more dwellings in Watchet must enter into a "Section 106" agreement with West Somerset Council to make a contribution to affordable housing as defined in a document called "SPG1". This can either be a percentage of the development as affordable homes, or, a cash contribution towards affordable housing in the local area. A rough calculation on the proposed development would indicate 21 dwellings or a contribution of about £1,200,000.00 (!) towards affordable housing. in exceptional circumstances, fully detailed, this can be negotiated. It would appear that WSC has, without public knowledge, negotiated with Urban Splash to negate any requirement for affordable housing or a cash payment. The Environmental Statement includes the full, gory details!

2)   Consistency and fairness of implementing the Conservation Area Guidelines. The fact that the WHOLE CONSERVATION AREA must be considered, not just the East Wharf. When local properties can not add a small building (see refusals for Yacht Club on headland and cottage at Highbank) because it would be ''Visual Intrusive", how can such a large building be acceptable. This smacks of double-standards. Please read, however difficult, the Conservation Area Guidelines below and use these in your objections.

3)   Over development of site with too high a density (also see above) and contravention of the Local Plan (viewable in both Town and District Council offices) in terms of housing and tourism.

4)  The lack of transparency in the manner that West Somerset Council (and to some extent our Councillors) are handling the whole project. There seems to be many secret deals, lack of listening to local people and what seems to be total ignorance of their own planning guidelines. Perhaps WSC is not a fit body to determine a such a complex and significant development which will change the whole character of the area. Simply as land owners, this would appear to be a prejudicial conflict of interests. I personally believe they do not have the necessary experience of dealing with very clued up developers - see the mess up on Minehead developments. I also believe that they do not have the resources to investigate all the facets of this application in the required thorough manner. Therefore, perhaps if the application could be determined by Central Government on an independent basis, we would get a fair consideration

Prepared by:-
John Richards,
Watchet.net web-hosting.
01984 634565
7th August 2008


Applicant: Mr Howard James & Mrs Kate Ricks, Urban Splash (South West), Loft 6, Tobacco Factory, Raleigh Road, Southville, Bristol, BS3 1TF

Agent: Mr David Preece, David Morley Architects, 18 Hatton Place, London, EC1N 8RU

  1)   Application Form (116kb)

  2)   Design and Access Statement (8mb)

  3)   Existing Site Plan 1 to 1250 (843kb)

  4)   Existing Site Plan 1 to 500 (660kb)

  5)   Existing Site Sections 1 (162kb)

  6)   Existing Site Sections 2 (163kb)

  7)   Proposed Site Demolition (629kb)

  8)   Proposed Location Plan (966kb)

  9)   Proposed Site Plan (762kb)

 10)   Wharf Buildings - Upper Ground Floor Plan (395kb)

 11)   Wharf Buildings - Ground Floor Plan (960kb)

 12)   Wharf Buildings - First Floor Plan (523kb)

 13)   Wharf Buildings - Second Floor Plan (510kb)

 14)   Wharf Buildings - Third Floor Plan (488kb)

 15)   Wharf Buildings - Upper Ground Floor Plan (459kb)

 16)   Wharf Buildings - Fifth Floor Plan (475kb)

 17)   Single Storey Building Plan (233kb)

 18)   Site Elevations 1 (299kb)

 19)   Site Elevations 2 (394kb)

 20)   Site Elevations 3 (414kb)

 21)   "Boat" Building Elevations (263kb)

 22)   "Wharf" Buildings Elevations (293kb)

 23)   "B and C" Buildings Elevations (341kb)

 24)   Economic Impact Assessment (371kb)

 25)   Archaeological Assessment (66kb)

 26)   Archaeological Assessment Figures 1 to 4 (4mb)

 27)   Archaeological Assessment Figures 5 to 7 (6mb)

 28)   Archaeological Assessment Figures 8 to 10 (7mb)

 29)   Archaeological Assessment Figures 11 to 13 (5mb)

 30)   Environmental Noise Impact Statement (3mb)

 31)   Environmental Statement (983kb)

 32)   Environmental Statement - Non Technical (57kb)

 33)   Ecological Appraisal (123kb)

 34)   Geology Report (2mb)

 35)   Drainage Strategy Report (2mb)

 36)   Flood Risk Assessment (2.5mb)

 37)   Water Quality Report (94kb)

 38)   Water Resources and Ground Conditions (1mb)

 39)   Transport Assessment (257kb)

 40)   Transport Assessment - Site Location Plan (8mb)

 41)   Transport Assessment - Key Pedestrian Routes (2mb)

 42)   Transport Assessment - Car Parking, Bus Stops And Trains (2mb)

 43)   Transport Assessment - Local Bus Routes (6.5mb)

 44)   Transport Assessment - Visibility Lines (45kb)

 45)   Transport Assessment - Locations of Junctions of Concern (4mb)

 46)   Transport Assessment - Washford Cross Junction Amendments (332k)

 47)   Transport Assessment - Letter to Highways ref Car Parking (52kb)

 48)   Transport Assessment - Letter to Highways ref Pedestrians (27kb)

 49)   Landscape Report (241kb)

 50)   Community Engagement Report (7mb)

Please note that the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment Report and the Proposed Landscape Plan are awaited from the Agents in electronic format and will be put on this webpage as soon as they are received


 1)  Conservation Area Rules and Regulations - Planning Policy Guidance 15 (266kb)

 2)  Suplementary Planning Obligations (932kb)

 3)  Download of full size image showing superimposed building from slipway (250kb)

 4)  The Fisher Report (200kb)

Changes made:-

23rd November 2008 - added report


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