Providing an expert study of a proposed marina with a difficult tidal range
Torridge District Council planning department
Torridge is a local government district in North Devon, England, based in Bideford.
A local developer had submitted an application for planning for a new marina on the River Torridge. We were asked to review and provide expert advice on the development to help the council’s planning committee reach a decision on the planning application.
The Taw and Torridge estuary on the North Devon coast has one of the largest tidal ranges in the UK – with a spring tide of around 7m – and with large parts of the estuary drying at low tide, this was a concern for the project. This limits the tidal access window and gives rise to fast tidal flows and challenging conditions at the river entrance in some weather conditions. So it was vitally important that we and the developers fully understood the local conditions, which create challenges for safe navigation. This is in addition to the usual market and economic factors that would feed into the decision on the marina’s viability.
We approached the project from three different perspectives:
Technical; We studied the tidal data to understand how long the river is accessible in each tide and what is the optimum design for the period of access to the marina. Increasing the access time increases the cost but also allows the marina to charge more, thus affecting the economics of the development.
Market; we studied the demand for a marina at this location and compared this with the competition for the marina, both locally and further afield. This allowed us to quantify the demand and comment on a competitive tariff.
Financial; we studied and commented on the commercial viability and long term sustainability of a marina at this location.
This project, together with our report, later went to public inquiry where we were asked to represent the council as expert witness at the inquiry hearing.
Our advice helped the Council’s planning committee and the Planning Inspectorate to reach a balanced decision on the overall development proposals, of which the marina was only one element.
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