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Page last updated at 15:31 GMT, Thursday, 29 July 2010 16:31 UK
Watchet's six year marina saga
Ruth Lovell
BBC Somerset politics reporter

Watchet Marina
The marina opened in 2001 after closing as a harbour in the '90s

Plans to develop the East Wharf at Watchet marina are back to square one.

After six years of consultation and planning, time has run out on West Somerset Council's agreement with developer Urban Splash.

Even though the developer had planning permission since 2008, the recession forced it to delay the building work.

The council said it would not extend the agreement as this could result in legal challenges and will now give back the company's £50,000 deposit.

No work has been done at the wharf since 2001. So what has gone wrong for Watchet?

Recession-hit

In the 1990s it closed as a working harbour and a lot of jobs were lost.

Nine years ago it reopened as a marina with around 200 berths to try and boost the town's economy after the harbour closure.

Urban Splash was chosen by the council to develop the East Wharf with a mixture of residential, including luxury flats, business and retail units.

East Wharf timeline
2001 Watchet Marina opens
2004 Urban Splash selected as developer
2005-7 Public consultation on plans
2008 Planning application approved
March 2010 Agreement runs out
April 2010 Urban Splash request extension
July 2010 Council look to terminate agreement

The agreement between the company and the council was due to run out at the end of March 2010 if nothing had happened by then.

Plans were approved for the development but then the global economic downturn came, and the scheme was declared financially unviable.

Urban Splash came up with alternative plans but the council said while they would make the marina look nicer, they would not benefit the local economy sufficiently.

In April this year - when the agreement was coming to its end - the developers asked the council for a two year extension in the hope that the economy would pick up, but this would have meant applying for planning permission again.

West Somerset Council said an extension like this could be subject to a legal challenge from other developers.

'Mothballing' plan

It is now planning to 'mothball' the site which could mean demolishing the warehouse, fencing off some land for the marina operator, and using the rest as a temporary pay and display car park.

The council would have to meet the costs of this. It has put aside £9000 for the warehouse demolition.

The project has cost the council more than £190,000 over the six-year period between 2003 and 2009.




SEE ALSO
Marina's future buoyed by lease
16 Apr 03 |  Somerset
'Coleridge's' marina up for sale
26 Apr 04 |  Somerset


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