DEMOLITION site on Tavistock high street is no closer to being developed a year after work was due to be near completion.

The so-called ‘big gap’ on Brook Street is a valuable retail site in the centre of the town’s shopping heartland.

The historic market town is famed for it elegant architecture and range of independent traders.But the ‘eyesore’ sight is now in danger of dragging down this reputation.

Traders say they are frustrated at the delay in building a ground level store and first-floor residential flats because it is a ‘blot’ on the townscape A date in mid April last year was set for preparatory ground works to begin as contractors were appointed by Taunton Land.  Pile-driving took place, but no further work took place, despite a prediction that it would take 12 months to complete.                 

Planning permission was granted for the new-build which is near Superdrug, however, the key to building starting is the go-ahead for site drainage.

John Sloman, of Taunton Land, said he has been waiting for nine months for West Devon Borough Council to approve the drainage plan.

The council denies this, saying said it approved one drainage scheme, but a second plan was ‘unacceptable’ and it had not received a new version.

Mr Sloman said: ‘It is very frustrating that after nine months since applying for permission for the attenuation works, West Devon have still not progressed it and there doesn’t seem to be any real reason for this delay.  I’m as concerned as anyone in the town.

‘It seems to me it’s just inefficient bureaucracy holding up an important redevelopment.’

The work is part of a wider scheme to reorganise the layout of nearby shops, such as the soon-to-be vacated M&Co clothes store and a vacant unit next to Superdrug.

Mr Sloman said: ‘Once the premises have all been rejigged and returned to the landlords and the empty site is rebuilt, this part of Brook Street can be returned to become a valuable part of the shopping experience.’

He said many prospective tenants were interested in the shops.

Chris Brook, director of place and enterprise for West Devon Borough Council, said: ‘The council gave approval for a drainage solution to develop the site.  

‘However, an application to vary the design was submitted, this was then deemed unacceptable by the council and the applicant’s agent withdrew the application on 13 December 2022. 

‘This means there is currently no application on record.’

Janna Sanders, spokesman for Tavistock Business Improvement District, said: ‘We are hopeful there will be a resolution soon to the delay with the Brook Street development.  

‘Completion is essential for the vitality of the high street as there is a demand for these units. 

‘Needless to say, it will also be more appealing for those visiting our town once the site is developed and reaching its potential.’

Lou Mills-Watts, owner of the Swan’s Nest craft shop, on Paddon’s Row, said: ‘The site is an eyesore. It’s a shame nothing constructive has been done with the site.  The busy summer season is approaching.  An empty building site doesn’t help with return visits and the reputation of the town as word spreads. We ned all the help we can get with people having less money to spend with the cost of living affecting us all.’

Duncan Bird, of Palmers butchers, said: ‘If this is an issue between the developer and West Devon council, then it needs to be sorted out as soon as possible.

‘The sooner we have something built on that site the better for the high street.

‘There’s also a vacant unit next to Superdrug and M&Co due to close down and Clintons has already closed down, so something needs to happen there soon before phase three begins, rearranging the existing units. The shortage is in the smaller units because the rates are so high.’