WATCHET'S East Quay is set to undergo a dramatic regeneration after £5million of funding was granted to the town's Onion Collective group.

The community interest company has revealed it was successful in its bid for the great cash sum fro the government's Coastal Community Fund, with a spokesman saying they are "over the moon" with the result.

The group now hopes the build will start in the autumn, and is planning to open doors in 2021.

Last month, West Somerset Council voted to throw its full support behind the multi-million pound plans, which the Onion Collective say will provide more than 200 new jobs from the building phase through to operation, and increased tourism and economic prosperity to the area.

The council had appointed the Onion Collective as the preferred bidder for a development of the land at East Quay in February 2015 and granted planning consent in June 2018 after the Onion Collective’s consultation showed strong public support.

WSC gave its support with approval of a lease on part of the land at East Quay and a loan of up to £1.5m to support the group while its application for funding from the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) is decided.

Now, that £5million application has been given the green light.

An Onion Collective spokesman said: "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 created truly ambitious and game changing plans to create sustainable economic growth and provide jobs."

The development includes 14 units with workshops, studios or business opportunities.

The spokesman added: "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’."

Once built, the Onion Collective say East Quay will deliver 37 new jobs to the area, including five 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," the spokesman said.

"These plans have been developed very closely with our local community, and are very 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 is the head of localities at West Somerset Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council.

He 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.”

When WSC gave its approval last month, council leader Anthony Trollope-Bellew said as 'local people have been central to the concept and development of the plans' it will mean the 'purpose of the buildings and aesthetics of the design come from community voices'.

The scheme has been designed by award winning architect Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio, alongside executive architects Ellis Williams Architects

Mr Taylor 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 development will take up one third of the quayside space.