MORE details have been unveiled on the exciting £6million plan to transform Watchet’s East Quay.

The Onion Collective is the social enterprise team behind a plan to create a scheme complete with workshops, galleries, accommodation pods, courtyard public and entertainment space and a restaurant.

Somerset County Gazette:

The architect is TV’s Piers Taylor, who presented BBC’s The House That £100k Built, who defended the modern design during a public meeting at the Visitor Centre on Tuesday.

Resident Stephen Elhers was unhappy, saying the design ‘was not in keeping with Watchet’. 

“It is too modern, too futuristic,” he said. “It might be OK in the summer but the trains do not run in the winter - there will not be enough visitors and it will be largely empty.”

Mr Taylor responded saying: “I cannot give you a fake 18th century or 19th century building, it would be a lie and it is not what Watchet deserves. Many of the historic buildings renowned today were risky at the time.”

Somerset County Gazette:

Potential tenants Kate Jeffreys and Andy King, from geology and ecology firm Geckoella, also spoke up in favour.
“We work across the country but we think this is an exciting project. "We think it will draw in clients and we will be in business 12 months a year,” Mrs Jefferys said. 
Mr King added: “We are right by some amazing geology and will be able to give top class training.”

During the presentation Sally Lowndes, from the Onion Collective, said: “There will be 43 jobs created and five apprenticeships created in workspaces, the gallery, accommodation and the restaurant.
“The development is also expected to lead to £2.3million in increased tourism spend each year in Watchet which, even on a conservative estimate, will support an additional 30 plus jobs in the town as more people visit, stay longer and use the new self-catering pods.”

A canopy of trees is proposed to protect to courtyard space from excessive winds, and Two Rivers Paper of Roadwater will occupy a working handmade paper mill which will be accompanied by a new heritage display of Watchet's papermaking history.

Naomi Griffith, also from the Collective, said that if planning permission was given, a large chunk of the £6million needed would be sought as grants from the Coastal Community Fund, The Arts Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and EDF, among others.