“The local townscapes of the flax and hemp industry are of great historic significance. It is hoped that they can be well treated as cornerstones of Bridport’s heritage, and utilised as building blocks for the regeneration of its historic industrial areas.” – Chairman of English Heritage, Sir Neil Cossons, in his introduction to the 2006 book Bridport and West Bay, the Buildings of the Flax and Hemp Industry (available from local bookshops).
The Bridport Area Development Trust is committed to the protection and celebration of Bridport’s “nationally significant” industrial heritage. The Trust continues to take an interest in the future of the St Michael’s Trading Estate in Bridport’s South West Quadrant: it regards the proposals from the landowners, Hayward & Co, as detrimental both to the retention of existing employment and to the historic character of the area, in their intention to demolish several buildings of local importance and crucially to alter the grain of development on the estate.
The BADT is conscious of the links and contrasts between the St Michael’s situation and the Trust’s own current proposals to restore and bring the Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute at 51 East Street back into community use. The BADT is exploring the potential use of the main rooms in the Institute for interpretation of Bridport’s rope and net industry, which has shaped the developed the town and its surroundings. The character, layout and buildings on St Michael’s Trading Estate, recognised as nationally significant in the history of the local industry, are an important part of this heritage which will be crucially diminished by the proposed development.
The BADT lodged an objection to Haywards’ planning applications and has indicated a willingness to work in partnership with the landowners and others on an alternative approach to the restoration, regeneration and development of the St Michael’s Estate – an approach which would promote longer term regeneration and investment opportunities as opposed to the short term residential approach currently being pursued.
News about developments on the St Michael’s Estate will be posted on this website.