A scheme to regenerate St Michael’s Trading Estate in Bridport, a plan which has been on the table for almost two decades, has finally been approved.
The plan to demolish some old industrial units, refurbish others and build a mixture of new housing and conversions, has been a hot topic in the town since the scheme was first dreamed up in 2007.
And now the development to build 83 new homes, of which 14 are ‘affordable’, with the potential to create 100 new jobs has been given the green light.
The scheme will also involve repair to the flood wall west of Tower Building and create a riverside walk with features, most notably one named Cattle Market Square.
And while the amount of industrial and commercial space will be reduced, planners at Dorset Council last week also agreed a scheme to extend Lilliput Buildings, in the north-east corner of the estate, to create six commercial units on the ground floor and build nine homes.
At the meeting, St Michael’s Trading Estate manager Martin Ridley of Hayward & Co, said: “As estate manager at St Michael’s, you might expect a biased view from me but my comments are based on many years’ experience. They also represent the views of Norman Hayward, sole owner of the estate and therefore the applicant.
“The development and regeneration of St Michael’s has become a hot topic over the lifetime of this application with conflicting views and opinions – a healthy debate for some, a frustrating and negative delay for others, us included.
“However, there is one aspect on which all parties agree: St Michael’s is not sustainable in its present form.
“For some parts of the community, the regeneration aspect is more important than the residential development although one can’t proceed without the other.
“The time is right to move forward so we can continue honouring the policy established 55 years ago of providing affordable commercial trading space, studios, and workshops – 86 tenants at the last count plus 37 co-occupants with another 12 due to sign up on completion of the reinstatement of the Edwards Tower Building post the major fire of 2018.
“Most of these traders are attracted to St Michael’s because of its unique location, its atmosphere, and its culture: ‘There’s nowhere quite like it’ as we say on our letterhead.
“As owners and estate managers this gives us the added challenge of preserving and retaining the long history of the estate but also capturing the best of the new in our scheme.
“We believe the St Michael’s scheme to be the acceptable face of development in West Dorset; it has always been a one-off opportunity; there is no Plan B; we need today to be the day this scheme finally gets the green light it has been seeking for 20 years.”