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East Quay and the Onion Collective @ Watchet

  • by JW

“Empowering our community to make the decisions about what developments take place”


It’s two years since the launch of a very transformative project on the Somerset coast – as covered on the VGS’s sister pages at the time: East Quay and the Onion Collective – Sidmouth Solarpunk

It was a long time coming: Watchet’s East Quay development opens after eight years of planning – BBC News

But such things do take time – especially if done well, as was the case with this development initiated by the local Onion Collective: East Quay Development | onion-collective

As they say:

We set up Onion Collective CIC in 2013, when plans for a major development of flats on the marina quayside of our hometown in  Watchet had just fallen through. Rather than witness more commercial development that had no community benefit,  we realised that by pooling our skills and resources we could help empower our community to make the decisions about what developments take place themselves.

We spent two months asking people ‘What does Watchet need for a stronger future?’  From that consultation, we then built a purpose built Visitor Centre and restored Boat Museum in 2016,  and in 2021 opened a £7.3m arts Centre called East Quay.  We are now developing a mapping tool with gaming company Free Ice Cream called Understory, and have a pilot facility growing mushrooms and mushroom products called Mycomill.   The experience we have gained from these projects mean that we can now help other communities achieve the same.  

About Onion Collective

It’s had a lot of interest from the architectural community: East Quay art centre in Watchet by Onion Collective and Invisible Studio

East Quay arts centre in Watchet takes cues from ad-hoc harbour buildings – YouTube

And this year, it won an award: MacEwen Award Special mention: East Quay community project by Invisible Studio in Watchet, Somerset | RIBAJ