A 250-berth marina is set to be built in Stratford-upon-Avon next year, more than 40 years after planning permission for the project was first granted.
Plans for the marina off Seven Meadows Road were approved by Stratford District Council in 1975, but for years there has been no movement on it.
In 2012 an updated plan was also granted planning permission, but aside from metal fencing being placed around the field last year, there has been no development.
However, a new developer called Surrey-based Land and Water Estates, who took over the lease on the land in March, have now committed to starting construction of what it is calling the Shakespeare Marina next spring.
The company is planning to make use of the existing planning permission for the site and expects to have it open for business in November 2017.
Facilities there will include car parking, electricity and water supplies, wifi, toilets and showers, a laundry room, coffee lounge and waste disposal facilities.
Neil Warren, director at Land and Water Estates, said: “We are really excited to be embarking on another strategic investment, and are particularly looking forward to unlocking this great site, which has had the benefit of a planning permission since 1975.
“We have been very well received so far by our neighbours and locals, and have been co-publicising our facility alongside the Avon Navigation Trust, we have some detailed design work to complete, but are already taking bookings for boats now and hope to commence full construction in the spring of 2017.”
Land and Water Estates have been involved in a number of major projects over recent years including the wetland and habitat creation schemes for the London Olympics and the emergency dredging works in Somerset after flooding in 2014.
They have designed and built over 30 canal and estuarial marinas and have developed, and operate four sites of their own.
Clive Matthews, chief executive of the Avon Navigation Trust, said: “We are supporting Land and Water Group with their plans.
“This marina will offer high-quality mooring facilities at the top end of the river on a flood safe site.
“There are not many good mooring sites at that end of the river and we know from talking to boat users that there is a demand for this type of facility in the Stratford area.
“Having the marina there means there will be a population on the site and these people will come into Stratford and use the businesses in Stratford, which can only be good for the local economy.
“I have seen other marinas constructed by Land and Water Estates and they are of a very high quality, they are very self-contained and they are conscious of not damaging the ecology of the river.”
Not everyone is in favour of the project though. Local resident, Elizabeth Pacione, said: “I think it’s a shame, I don’t think it should be going ahead as it will lead to the loss of a large section of the river bank and its wildlife.
“I do think there is a flaw in the plans though because the only environmental survey that was ever done was in 2010 and just concerned otters and voles on the river.
“New surveys need to be done every two years to remain viable, so I don’t see how they can still use that planning permission without commissioning new surveys.
“People also used to be able to walk through that field. This marina will change the whole ambience and feel of the river, I think it should stay natural and unspoiled.”
Land and Water Estates has produced a glossy brochure detailing their plans. Copies are available from the Avon Navigation Trust barge in the Stratford canal basin at Bancroft Gardens, or can be viewed at the Herald’s office in Rother Street, Stratford.