BALTIC Wharf Boatyard may be under threat from developers Acorn who are seeking to build more houses at the site than they originally planned, it is believed.

This could result in the boatyard shrinking in size and be a threat to its future, warns the town’s district councillor, John Birch.

The original scheme for 190 new homes gained outline planning consent in 2010 and the first phase of 95 dwellings was completed by Bloor Homes in 2014.

Developers Acorn Property are now in the pre-application stages for the latest proposals for the site, to which Cllr Birch has been privy.

Outlining his concerns at the recent full Totnes Town Council meeting, he said he was not allowed to reveal details of the new plans but hinted to what councillors may expect to hear when they meet with the developers today (Thursday December 8).

“The JLP (Joint Local Plan) Policy TTV21 provides for an allocation of 190 dwellings, 95 of which have been built, leaving 95 outstanding. I am concerned that Acorn may propose a number in excess of the policy allocation resulting in over-development,” Cllr Birch said in his report.

“It is possible the increase in the number of dwellings may be at the expense of the boatyard that should be retained.”

Cllr Birch also spelled out his fears there may be proposals for a reduction in the boatyard and its facilities, which goes against the Joint Local Plan (JLP) policy, and said provision for up to 80 assisted living units at the site may also be under threat.

Baltic Wharf Marine and Business Centre consists of boat sales centre, hard standing with crane and hoist lifting areas, a slipway and marine-related businesses including boat repairs, rigging and marine engineers.

Cllr Ray Hendriksen asked how the businesses on site view their future.

Cllr Birch explained: “The JLP says that the boatyard, as it is at the moment, and its facilities should be protected, not reduced. That in my view could be one of the critical issues that we all need to consider when an application is submitted. We have a duty as councillors to make certain those facilities are protected and not reduced.”

Cllr Sarah Collinson suggested giving the boatyard some sort of official heritage status in a bid to protect its future.

She also questioned whether the town’s sewage system can cope with more homes.

Cllr Marion Adams said currently sewage is being pumped from Baltic Wharf, under the River Dart to the storage area.

“That’s the only way they can get rid of the sewage from down there. We are well overdue a review of the sewage situation in our town,” she insisted.

Cllr Collinson said: “I agree that is a concern. Is there a provision for the town council to ask for an urgent view of the sewage situation, and particularly in connection with major development proposals and at this site where there is a specific problem with removing the sewage?

“I’m involved in global health discussions around the risks of antimicrobal resistance from sewage going into rivers like ours. It’s a very serious risk - it’s one of the major risks to public health globally - and we shouldn’t have any decisions of this town council or the district council that could even begin to risk worsening a situation that’s already unsustainable in that respect, in this area.”

Cllr Birch also pointed out an increase in housing would have an “adverse impact” on town centre traffic.

He concluded: “The whole of Baltic Wharf has the benefit of an outline planning permission granted in 2012 so if they wanted to, tomorrow they could start the development in accordance with the 2012 planning permission.

“However, what is coming before the council is potentially a new application and you might ask them to explain why aren’t they proceeding with the application which was granted permission in 2012?”