AFTER five years of planning and fundraising, Watchet’s Onion Collective are ready to start the East Quay build, having appointed Midas Construction as the contractor this week.

Midas will start on site on December 9 and the build is expected to be completed in spring 2021.

The East Quay development will contain 14 workspaces/maker studios, a gallery, print room, a paper mill run, a new rock and fossil preparation lab run, an education space, a restaurant and five self-catering accommodation pods and outdoor space in the courtyard.

It will run a programme of events, exhibitions and activities, inside and outside for visitors, locals and school groups alike, creating vibrancy, buzz and fun on the quayside all year around.

Onion Collective Director Rachel Kelly says: "As you can imagine we had to go through a very stringent tender process, known as OJEU, which relates thresholds for procurement under EU regulations.

"It meant that the tender package was shared on a pan-European website and open to any construction company to bid.

"We had written expressions of interest from 19 companies and we asked five to complete the full tender process.

"Midas were the successful tenderer and scored highly on their commitment to community engagement and Considerate Contractor Scheme track record as well as their cost and quality control."

"We realise that the build will have a level of impact on everyone in the community, but we are fully committed to making the build as quick and painless as possible. In fact, this was a key requirement raised with contractors during our tender process."

Both Midas and Onion Collective are committed to using as much of the local skilled workforce as possible and there will be a 'Contractors meet the Contractor' event so that local West Somerset sub-contractors have an opportunity to make it on to the Midas sub-contractor database. This event will be publicised shortly but Onion Collective ask that anyone interested in working on the build get in touch with them directly so they can be added to the attendee list.

The first monthly ‘Community meet the Contractor’ meetings will take place on Wednesday, November 27 at 7pm in the Watchet Methodist school room.

Exeter-based Midas will also carry out letter drops to neighbouring properties before starting on site.