AMBITIOUS multi-million pound plans to regenerate Watchet's East Quay moved a step closer as planning permission was submitted this week.

The Work Foundry, which is a collaboration between The Onion Collective, Invisible Studio architects and has included consultation with the local community, will house workshops for makers, a double-storey restaurant and cafe and outdoor courtyard.

The Onion Collective also say the development will have a gallery 'fit for exhibitions of international importance' and self-catering accommodation 'pods' for visitors.

Now planning permissions has been submitted, a second round of consultation is set to take place in the town during the second week of February, although exact details of when and where these drop-ins will be held is yet to be confirmed.

Jessica Prendergrast from the Onion Collective says the plan is intentionally ambitious and will create at least 30 jobs.

"The project aims to bring life and energy back onto the Watchet quayside, with music, entertainment and activities throughout the year," Mrs Prendergrast said.

"It will be home to more than 15 entrepreneurs and innovative organisations across social enterprise, culture, geology, and industry – recognising the ample evidence that businesses which cluster and collaborate generate more innovation and growth.

"It will house an art gallery bringing inventiveness, originality, and talent to Watchet. It will offer apprenticeships in social enterprise, arts management, paper-making and ecology. It has been designed by one of the most inspiring architects in the country, Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio. Not so bad for a place that’s apparently bottom of the heap."

Somerset County Gazette:

The plan is for the development to be self-sustaining once it is up and running, and makes the most of tourism income to cross-subsidise the parts which are unlikely to be money-spinners.

The challenge now is to fund the £6 million capital build cost, but the Onion Collective says it already has plans to bid for funds from the government's Coastal Communities Fund, EDF's Hinkley C Community Impact Mitigation fund; and the group has been working to build relationships with benefactors across the nation.

Mrs Prendergrast said: "We will be writing to the Departments of Education; Business, Energy and Industrial Affairs; and Culture, Media and Sport to ask for their support.

"They could get this going in a matter of weeks if they wanted.

"We hope their ambition to transform lives matches ours."