Anchorwood Bank, Barnstaple

Complete multi-disciplinary service delivery from due diligence to planning approval to construction supervision for a phased 16 hectare mixed-use brownfield development.


Anchorwood Bank is one of the most significant brownfield regeneration sites in south west England.

Fronting the River Taw, this high quality mixed-use scheme is bringing employment, housing and economic development to this area of North Devon to create a sense of community and place.

In 2009, Hydrock was appointed by Development Securities’ joint venture with Wessex Investors to undertake a due diligence exercise on this 16 hectare former industrial site. With the site already benefiting from an extant consent for retail use, our client was seeking consent for a supermarket, retail park, residential units, hotel and leisure facilities.

Our due diligence identified the technical challenges and constraints of the site and informed the strategy required for each phase of the proposed development. Of particular note was the importance of protecting an immediately adjacent Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and County Wildlife Site (CWS).

Phase 1 – from due diligence to construction

Following our initial due diligence we supported Wessex Investors in obtaining full planning consent for an Asda superstore and outline consent for the residential, leisure, hotel and retail park aspects of the development. 

We delivered pre-planning services across all disciplines to support the hybrid application. This included site investigation, a remediation strategy, a utilities strategy, drainage and flood risk strategies, transportation studies and general arrangements for new site access, all provided under an Environmental Impact Assessment. Cost plan support was also provided.

The proposed scheme required a real-time traffic model and network capacity assessment of ten junctions to demonstrate how highway improvement measures would substantially mitigate the traffic generated by the new development.

Agreeing an off-site flood defence scheme, delivered under a S106 agreement, was a successful value engineering exercise as it enabled us to reduce the proposed raising of the site (using imported materials) by over 80,000m³. This equated to avoiding 10,000 lorry movements, adding strongly to the sustainability credentials of this development.

Following planning consent under Phase 1 of the development, we supported the detailed design phase for the superstore, the enabling works platform for site servicing, and the flood defence around the site.

Specific activity included:

  • Utilities diversions
  • Highways access under Section 278
  • Off-site junction improvement designs
  • Major on-site Section 38 work
  • Demolition specification
  • Earthworks specification for the site development platforms
  • Design of riverside flood defences
  • Design of the pedestrian and cycleway (public realm) around the edge of the scheme
  • Full tender pack for contractors
  • Regulatory approvals, including from the Environment Agency and the Marine Maritime Organisation for the flood defences

During the demolition and earthworks we have also provided Wessex Investors with site monitoring support.

Phase 2 – support

North Devon Homes is in partnership with Wessex Investors for Phase 2 of the development which will include 163 residential units and 50,000 sq ft of retail space. In addition to Hydrock, the project team includes Pearce Construction and Woodward Smith Architects.

On behalf of this partnership, Hydrock supported the Reserve Matters Application successfully discharging outline planning conditions for the Phase 2 residential scheme. We also supported a new planning application for the retail park component, which was successfully granted.

This role included the planning support and detailed design of the next phase of the infrastructure, for example: drainage design; the onsite highway design; a large S185 sewer diversion; further earthworks including a surcharging strategy; and enhancements to a foul-pumping station.

Phase 3 – support

Longer term, Hydrock will provide planning support for Phase 3 which comprises a listed building. The end use for this building is currently being considered as part of the client’s development appraisal.

Securing the future

Stakeholder and community engagement has been critical to the long-term sustainable development of Anchorwood Bank. 

We have supported our client with well-publicised public exhibitions and consultation sessions, and helped them to develop a positive relationship with North Devon Council, discussing how to ensure there is no adverse retail impact on Barnstaple town centre and how the scheme will create a sense of community and place. There has also been extensive liaison with the environmental authorities to agree the ecological mitigation measures for this riverside site to ensure the protection of the Site of Special Scientific Interest.