Bideford, North Devon
A community-focused vision for the transformation of a strategic site for Bideford, renewing the high street as a thriving destination and reinventing the town centre’s purpose.
Isaacs Yard has quietly laid hidden away in the heart of Bideford town centre for centuries. Historically a group of gardens and allotments serving the private properties of surrounding town centre streets, Isaacs Yard currently serves as a tiring vehicle garage and scrap yard. Encircled by the surrounding town centre streets, Isaacs Yard has a potentially pivotal role to play in the community and life of Bideford.
This key strategic site now serves as an opportunity for Torridge Distric Council to re-invigorate the town centre with a communinity focused, mixed-use development that brings culture, connectivity, and the opportunity for a thriving and distinctive local economy to Bideford.
Isaac’s Yard is the largest single developable space within the town centre and will serve to respond to a series of local issues including;
- A declining role of the town centre and its community impact
- A lack of evening economy and covered / all-weather events spaces
- Acknowledging the shift in the core town centre and creating a genuine focus for it
- Health, living environment and education deprivation and a lack of aspiration and pride
- Providing dynamic work spaces to support job creation and inter-connectedness
The Project Team
A carefully crafted and compelling community engagement exercise with Onion Collective revealed that residents recognise the town’s lack of shared community space (both indoor and outdoor) and that there’s great appetite to harness an opportunity for a town centre civic space to physically manifest the town’s community togetherness.
Concurrently, with leadership and project co-ordination from Stantec, a town-wide feasibility study (by David Hawes, Urban Designer), explored the suitability of various potential transformational sites in Bideford to explore a scheme associated with a bid to MHCLG’s Future High Street Fund.
The result was a shared recognition of the strategic role that Isaac’s Yard plays in Bideford. David Hawes and Hilton Barnfield Architects were then invited to design a site response that would reflect the community’s needs and aspirations at this pivotal location. The brief for the project evolved during the course of the project’s design development to deliver civic facilities (council health, culture), complimented with local commerce and town centre living accommodation.
Through the course of design development, the brief was further refined with commercial development intelligence from Igloo Regeneration. Igloo added expertise to the project team with finance strategies, market-informed and scalable residential typologies, and refining a development phasing model.
Isaacs Yard knits in to Bideford’s existing street pattern, adding to the town centre’s network of interconnected streets with a series of new passages that use existing townscape features. The new pedestrian routes through Isaacs Yard converge at a central public space, framed by the site’s historic garden walls and connecting with prominent new public buildings that present a new outlook across the town.
The public space serves as a versatile canvas for a multitude of possible community activitites, from stage productions to the Bideford Half Marathon. The civic buildings through the site provide a varied and versatile range of uses, whilst a mix of commercial space and residential accommodation at upper floors also creates a sense of passive surveillance.
The Isaacs Yard development has been designed to compliment phased delivery and modern construction techniques.
Isaac’s Yard will create a new, central cultural and community quarter for Bideford, promoting non-retail uses and development, creating:
- A vibrant new public realm in a way which has never before existed within Bideford’s town centre and will incorporate the restoration of a Victorian conservation garden into controlled public use, offering enormous wellbeing and environmental benefits
- A series of high-quality workspaces (530m2) to provide entrepreneurial drive to the town centre
A vibrant food and drink incubation hub, connecting the town to its agricultural heritage whilst also strengthening the night-time economy
- Social and community sector provision to address identified issues with community bridging and challenge ongoing deprivation issues
- A major new gathering and events space
- 25 much-needed, high-quality new residential units which will re-establish a desire to live at the heart of the town
- A landmark viewing point, not only creating an attraction but connecting the site to the much-loved River Torridge.
Isaacs Yard will be a place for civic engagement and personal connection, building a stronger economy, and rejuvenating the town centre whilst equally increasing agency, engagement, aspiration and pride.
A planning application (together with potential ‘meanwhile uses’) is planned for 2021 with the project opening to the public in 2024.
Works: Future High Street Fund: Town Centre Renewal
Budget: ~ £12.5m
Floor Area: 3500m2
Construction Period: 2-3 years
Torridge District Council
Onion Collective & Igloo Regeneration
David Hawes, Urban Designer
Hilton Barnfield Architects