Plans to regenerate one of Taunton’s prime riverside quarters have been given outline approval by Taunton Deane Borough Council’s planning committee.

Members agreed to implement the outline proposals developed with the Council’s consultation partner, the Mace Group, at a meeting in Deane House last night.

The development respects the special character of Coal Orchard with its wealth of niche, independent shops, and will bring new vitality to the area putting the River Tone at the heart of Taunton. The outline proposals include a mixed development of housing, workspace, restaurants and retail. Better access to the river is also planned along with careful consideration of flood defences.

St James Street Pool will be demolished but key features will be retained in the development – for example the historic foundation stone. The area around the Brewhouse will also be protected for potential expansion of the theatre as unveiled last week. If the ambitious proposals receive backing the revitalised theatre would feature an enlarged auditorium and a range of spaces such as studios, cinema and gallery, while making the most of the river frontage and creating the potential for pop-up performances, markets and events.

Cllr Mark Edwards, Executive Councillor for Business Development said: “I am delighted that these plans for the Coal Orchard have been approved bringing us a step closer to the creation of a fantastic riverside space for Taunton. They are the result of careful consideration of a number of unique aspects, and points taken into account through a comprehensive consultation process.”

Cllr Roger Habgood, Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Transportation, said: “These approved outline plans for Coal Orchard clearly reflect our Garden Town status striking a balance between retaining our character and wonderful environment, and our growth aspirations that will make Taunton more prosperous in the future.”

Further discussions will take place with interested parties as part of the work in drawing up detailed plans that will come back to planning committee as reserved matters in due course.
The proposals for Coal Orchard are a vital link in the chain of a wider ‘Rethink’ of Taunton Town Centre which includes the regeneration of Firepool with a unifying theme that puts the River at the heart of the Town. Find out more on the Taunton Rethink page.