New images have been released revealing how Totnes’ historic Baltic Wharf will look if Acorn gets the green light for its controversial mixed use development.

The property group wants to build 195 new homes, a 55-bed care home, commercial premises, offices, marine workshops, boat storage area, shops and a cafe on the prime waterfront site.

The proposals conflict with an alternative “inspirational” plan for the centuries old boatyard, drawn up by district councillor for West Dart, John McKay, who believes it possible to create a centre of marine excellence that would provide hundreds of highly skilled and well paid jobs, “significantly” benefit the local economy and provide the town with a sustainable and resilient economic future.

Acorn’s regional director, Ed Lewis, hailed Acorn’s plans an “exciting” opportunity to deliver a dynamic scheme, designed to suit the needs of the community now and in the future. 

He said: “Our vision is to regenerate and revive Baltic Wharf; to reuse this brownfield site to deliver much more employment with much needed homes for Totnes, while maintaining its cultural and environmental heritage. Importantly, our plans will show how we can achieve this in a viable and sustainable way.”

Ten years ago, planning permission was granted to turn Baltic Wharf into a mixed used development. The first phase of 95 new homes was completed by Bloor Homes in 2014 and now Acorn is due to submit a planning application for the remainder of the site early this summer. But first, it will exhibit its plans at a public consultation at Totnes Civic Hall on Friday June 9.

Totnes councillor Jacqi Hodgson expressed concerns about Baltic Wharf’s ability to sustain its marine industry, but also voiced reservations about Acorn’s plans, and questioned the affordability of its “high number” of new housing which she fears are “likely” to be built at the expense of supporting the boatyard’s current marine industry.

Cllr Hodgson added: “Totnes already suffers from high traffic congestion, how will that be affected? Similarly, there is no mention of any of this new development responding to the climate or biodiversity emergency we face. A site of this scale will need to address many elements of those issues in order to be truly sustainable.

“There are many unanswered questions in this proposal. To be a sustainable development there needs to be a clear demonstration of balance between the social, economic and environmental costs and benefits.”

Town and district councillor Georgina Allen said: “Our priority is seeing the boatyard flourish and that the Joint Local Plan’s priorities are respected. We will be looking to see that happen.”