Coal Orchard plans get green light

Coal Orchard Artist's Impression

The plans for the Coal Orchard were developed by the Council with its project and development management partner, Mace Group.

The plans include a mix of apartments, retail, workspace, restaurants and gym, and

incorporate a riverfront plaza with a stepped terrace to make the most of its position on the River Tone.

Work at the Coal Orchard could start as early as spring 2019 and will create the first link in a chain of developments connecting the station directly to the established town centre.

Cllr Mark Edwards, Executive Councillor for Business Development said: “The plans respect the character of Coal Orchard and will bring new vitality to the area putting the River Tone at the heart of Taunton. They are carefully created to strike a balance between retaining the character, enhancing the environment and our aspirations for growth reflecting our Garden Town status. They are a vital link in the chain of a wider plans for Taunton town centre and I am genuinely excited that they will be coming to reality. There has already been considerable interest in the commercial and retail units, and I believe there will be similar interest in the residential apartments in this unique location.”

Andrew Clancy, Projects Director from Mace Group said “We are excited by the potential of the Coal Orchard site, one that we having been working on with the Council for the past three years. We are delighted to be involved in the project, and believe that it will act as a catalyst for other regeneration projects in the town. The Council’s vision for the site has been clear for over 10 years through their adopted policies and I am proud to have personally being involved.”

St James Street Pool will be demolished but key features will be retained in the development – for example the historic foundation stone will be incorporated into the public realm scheme.

The area around the Brewhouse Theatre will also be protected for potential expansion under a separate project being led by TDBC in partnership with The Taunton Theatre Association.

Coal Orchard application

TAUNTON Deane Borough Council has received a detailed planning application for development on land at Coal Orchard in Taunton.

The application is for a mix of uses including restaurants on the waterfront, retail units, gym, apartments all complemented by public space allowing access to the river.

The site already has outline consent so this application will complete the planning process providing more detail to the earlier, outline application. If granted this will allow works to get under way in early 2019.

This application forms the first phase in the development of the Coal Orchard site. This will be complemented by a refurbishment of the Brewhouse which together will create a new place on the river with culture at its heart.

The applicant is the council`s own business development team working in partnership with Mace. They have submitted a range of supporting documents.

The application – reference number 38/18/0185 – is available for inspection at Taunton Deane Borough Council’s offices in Belvedere Road, Taunton, and online at www.tauntondeane.gov.uk

The public has until Friday June 22 to comment on the application – this can be done by letter, by email or online at www.tauntondeane.gov.uk

Council proposes to support YMCA project

Taunton Deane Borough Council is poised to add its support to a scheme to transform an empty eyesore into a multi-purpose venue with a host of economic and social benefits.

Somerset Coast YMCA plans to turn the vacant Great Western Hotel at Taunton railway station into a buzzing boutique hotel, a base for new, start-up businesses, café/restaurant, conference and networking space – all linked to creating training and skills for young people.

The YMCA has a track record in social enterprises – The Beach Hotel in Minehead and Barley Wood House in Wrington, near Bristol – creating live training for people while delivering a financially sound business.

The Borough Council is planning to support the Great Western Hotel project by providing a £675,000 secured capital loan that will be repaid over 25 years. Other funding towards the enterprise has been secured by the YMCA, including £500,000 from the Hinkley Point C Community Impact Mitigation (CIM) fund, £135,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £106,000 from the Rail Heritage Trust.

Key elements of the project include:

Creation of a premises hosting a training and skills partnership delivering 10 new jobs, 12 apprenticeships, 10 traineeships and many volunteering opportunities
The hotel will be transformed from a currently vacant office space to a modern hotel attracting new customers to Taunton and its surrounds, and specifically supporting the business community
Creation of 15 boutique hotel rooms
Café/restaurant, conference space which can accommodate 125 and broader meeting and collaboration space. This element will be based in the ground floor being branded as “The Exchange”
Business hub, co-working spaces and Incubator units situated in the basement and ground floor areas. These spaces will be let flexibly and allow for short term and long term arrangements. The space will offer superfast broadband, a hosted reception and a series of weekly events for those using the spaces and be branded as “the Platform”
Councillor Mark Edwards, Deputy Leader of the council with responsibility for business development, said: “The Great Western Hotel is in a key position at the entrance to Taunton railway station – a real gateway into our county town.

“Once redeveloped, the new station entrance will open out opposite the building. The Great Western Hotel will therefore be a highly visible presence for those coming to Taunton. The redevelopment of this building is closely linked to our wider Taunton regeneration plans while providing hands-on training opportunities.

“It’s a brilliant way of providing a space where businesses can set up, collaborate and thrive. That’s exactly what the business community has told us is needed in Taunton.

“I hope that we, as a council, will support the proposal for a commercially-based loan to help enable this exciting and innovative project become a reality. Somerset Coast YMCA has worked immensely hard to secure a range of funding to breathe new life into this important site.”

The proposal for the loan will be considered by the council’s corporate scrutiny committee on 26 April 2018. Members’ views will then be fed into the decision-making process.

PROGRESS FOR FIREPOOL AS PLANNING CONSENT IS GRANTED

Taunton’s Town Centre regeneration took a major step forward yesterday, when the revised outline plans for the £105m scheme to transform the Firepool site were approved by Taunton Deane Borough Council’s Planning Committee (14 March 2018).

Firepool is an integral part of the wider economic regeneration plans for Taunton with the potential to create in excess of 1,700 jobs as well as providing office, hotel and residential accommodation and supporting waterfront leisure and retail outlets. The recent planning consent follows many months of detailed consultations between lead developer, St. Modwen, and relevant statutory consultees.

Commenting on this landmark decision, Pete Davies, Commercial Director for St. Modwen, said:
“As a regional and national developer with a strong track record in creating sustainable new communities, we are continually striving to transform places to create better futures. This positive outline planning decision will now enable us to work alongside Taunton Deane Borough Council to provide one of the largest mixed-use schemes in the South West and a lasting legacy for the town.”

Cllr Mark Edwards, Deputy Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council and responsible for business development, said:
“We have a proud history – but we are looking to a prouder future. This scheme to transform Firepool will make the most of our superb riverside environment and create a regional destination for retail, business, leisure and culture for generations to come. It will include high quality pedestrian and cycle links between the railway station and Coal Orchard, and from there into the town centre. This reinforces much improved access to these areas which are themselves coming forward for regeneration as part of our wider Taunton Garden Town Strategy.”

Cllr John Williams, Leader of the Council, added:
“I know how much people want to see this largely derelict site developed. It is key to our overall Garden Town strategy that puts the River Tone back at the heart of the town and, most importantly, will provide new jobs and facilities for our residents. It will also cement our place as a regional centre with excellent links to London and beyond. Taunton is one of the fastest growing towns in the region, the only Garden Town in the South West and has the advantage of excellent road and rail connections, top quality schools and further education, first class medical facilities, great urban open spaces and superb countryside and coast on its doorstep. We need to be competitive and provide high quality facilities to attract continued inward investment and satisfy the needs of its growing population and the mix of uses proposed achieves just that.”

Green light for £18m upgrade of M5 Junction 25

Multi-million pound plans to upgrade Junction 25 of the M5 have moved a step closer following today’s decision to grant planning permission.
Junction 25 is the main access point to Taunton and also provides a critical link to the second strategic route into the South West – via the A358 and A303.
Somerset County Council has been working with partners to develop a scheme to increase the capacity of this vital link to improve traffic flow, ease peak hour congestion and unlock land for employment.
Members of the Council’s Regulation Committee met today to consider the application and voted by a majority to approve the plans.
Cllr John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “Today’s decision is a significant milestone and great news for the thousands of motorists who use Junction 25 every day.
“It is also great news for Somerset’s business community, with these plans being integral to unlocking nearby land for development.
“The hard work now continues and we’ll be hoping to see diggers in the ground by this time next year.”
The scheme involves full signalisation and enlarging of the roundabout, widening of the eastern exit, a new roundabout to access the proposed Nexus 25 employment site, and improved pedestrian and cycling facilities.
It is expected to cost around £18m with allocated funding of £12.9m from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal Fund, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Highways England, and developer contributions.
Junction 25 currently experiences congestion in both peak hours, with queues frequently extending along the A358 in both directions and occasionally backed up onto the M5.
The upgrade aims to improve journey times, reduce congestion, improve Park & Ride journey time reliability and create a more attractive access to Taunton, Yeovil and the A303 from the M5. The scheme will also unlock access into the proposed Nexus 25 employment site and support other planned growth across Taunton.
Councillor John Williams, Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, said: “The enhancement of Junction 25 and development of the Nexus 25 Strategic Employment Site represents a significant opportunity to bring new business and investment to Somerset and Taunton in a unique environment that supports innovation, collaboration and productivity.”
“We are committed to provide the high quality, long-term jobs that our economy needs. Taunton is growing and it is essential we deliver a balanced economy of housing, jobs and leisure together with improved infrastructure to match.
“It is great that J25 upgrade has received consent as it is not only vital to cope with growth across the town but is the “trigger” required to validate the Local Development Order (LDO) approval for Nexus 25.”
Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley CBE DL said: “I am very pleased to see this important junction improvement get underway which will help us improve connectivity to the Heart of the South West, a factor, that’s crucial to the area’s productivity and growth.
“The A303 is a strategic route into the HotSW area and has been historically under-invested in; a situation which is being partially addressed by increased dualling in sections, so by increasing the capacity of the junction with the M5 will help to improve the efficiency of the route from the south and south east into the south west. It also gives better access to new employments sites as well as better cycling and pedestrian facilities that are all part of the LEP’s vision for investing in infrastructure to generate growth.”
Local Growth Minister, Jake Berry, said: “Growth Deal funding is paving the way for major transport and infrastructure improvements across the country. With these multi-million pound improvements to Junction 25 of the M5, motorists will soon be reaping the benefits of reduced congestion and improved access to a key route on the UK’s road network.”
These designs have been developed alongside Highways England and take into account HE’s ongoing proposals to upgrade the A358. The improvements will provide benefits if the road system stays the same or if it changes in future. You can see Somerset County Council’s response to the current A358 consultation at http://www.somerset.gov.uk/policies-and-plans/schemes-and-initiatives/a30-a303-a358-improvement-project/.
The next step will be for the County Council to go out to tender over the summer. Construction is likely to take up to two years with work expected to start during winter 2018/19.

Press Release Source: Somerset County Council March 2018

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