Garden Town funding announced

TAUNTON is being awarded more Government funding to help achieve its Garden Town ambitions, sharing a £2.5m pot with other designated communities.

The local award – £375,000 – is funding designed to help Taunton Deane Borough Council make progress with vital planning work to deliver Garden Town principles.

The money is the second award to be made as the council was awarded £350,000 when Taunton was officially announced as the South West’s only Garden Town in the New Year.

Announcing the award, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Locally-led garden towns have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need. This new funding will help support the construction of more than 155,000 homes in nine places across the country. New communities not only deliver homes, but also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies.”

In Taunton Deane, work that needs to be completed includes:
• Drawing up planning blueprints for key sites under the Garden Town plan
• Moving ahead with infrastructure planning – such as roads – and developing a plan to deliver the infrastructure
• Progressing infrastructure projects to help deliver the new garden communities and Taunton town centre regeneration sites
The Council is already investing significant staff resources across the authority to deliver the Garden Town programme, with priority areas including town centre regeneration schemes, new garden communities, the new strategic employment site, flood alleviation and strategy development. This new award will allow us to continue the good work already being done.

Taunton Deane Borough Council recognises the importance of planning and delivering supporting infrastructure alongside growth and was one of the first authorities to implement Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Future CIL and New Homes Bonus (NHB) funding will help to make sure the necessary infrastructure is delivered and provide match funding for key projects.

“We are investing £16.6m of NHB funding to ensure strategic projects happen,” said Cllr John Williams. “We are aware of existing community concerns about transport links, facilities like schools and health centres and our commitment is very much in line with the Government’s preference that NHB funding is used to ensure local communities benefit from growth-related income.
“This allocation of a six-figure sum to improve our capacity to deliver our Garden Town ambition is a real vote of confidence in Taunton as a strategic centre in the South West and a credit to our team that put our bid together.”

High tech, high quality business park in prospect

Taunton Deane Borough Council is pressing ahead with its commitment to invest in the local economy after agreeing to buy a business park in Taunton.

The council is to consolidate its holdings at Lisieux Way to help protect existing high tech jobs on the site, attracting new employers and to regenerate the key employment site.

The aim is to create a high tech business park, within easy reach of the town centre and road and rail connections, with high quality companies similar to those already on the site.

“The site is already home to two important hi-tech companies – South West Pathology Services and Novanta (GSI Exotec). We want to make sure we retain such high quality businesses in the town and to attract more,” said Cllr Mark Edwards, Deputy Leader and Executive member for business development.

“We will also look at other potential uses for the site with the help of specialists that will be able to advise us.

“Taunton Deane Borough Council is seizing an opportunity to acquire an important, strategic site that will generate an income, secure existing jobs and provide opportunities for new jobs. This will result in a sound return for our investment.

“Our council must also become more commercially-minded as we look to the future. We need to generate income to replace the central funding we will lose in order to protect the vital front-line services that our residents value.

The decision was agreed by the Full Council on Tuesday (October 3) – but some details of the deal remain confidential due to commercial sensitivities.

The land is being bought from Thales – the company moved out of Taunton some years ago – to make sure that the Borough can capitalise on the economic opportunities offered.

The council plans to refurbish some existing buildings on the site initially before embarking on a more ambitious regeneration.