Brewhouse ambitions being realised

BrewhouseTaunton Deane Borough Council (TDBC) and Taunton Theatre Association (TTA) have announced the appointment of MICA Architects to redevelop The Brewhouse Theatre & Arts Centre on the Coal Orchard site.

The news was revealed today (Friday 5 October) during a visit to the riverside venue by the Rt Hon Jeremy Wright QC, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

TDBC who own the arts centre and the operator TTA, have been working on plans to expand and revitalise the 70s building into a flagship, multi-purpose arts venue fit for generations to come.

MICA is a leading architectural practice responsible for the Southbank Masterplan, Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, Fairfield Halls restoration, National Maritime Museum and Horniman Museum in the UK. MICA will work in partnership with theatre and acoustic specialist, Sound Space Vision, whose international portfolio includes Theatre Royal (Bath), Dubai Opera House and Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (Toronto, Canada).

Cllr Mark Edwards, whose portfolio includes the arts, culture and business, said: “This investment represents the council’s commitment to regenerating Taunton Town Centre and its appreciation of the positive cultural, economic and social impact that such arts projects have on people living, working, visiting and studying in the region. These plans play a central part in the regeneration of the Coal Orchard creating a vibrant and thriving centre on the River Tone.”

The improved venue will include an enlarged main auditorium and flexible studio theatre to enable a greater programme of live performances, with improved acoustics and better facilities for national touring productions. The revitalised arts centre will wrap around parts of the existing building, working in harmony to preserve the adjoining listed 18th century house.  This will provide a range of new spaces including performing and visual art studios, cinema, cafe and gallery while making the most of the river frontage and creating the potential for pop-up performances and events.

TTA are in already in talks with several service providers and arts organisations who are anticipated to reside in or utilise the rejuvenated facility, creating a thriving cultural hub in the heart of Taunton.

Vanessa Lefrancois, Chief Executive of TTA, said: “I am in no doubt that this redevelopment project, will unlock Taunton’s potential and act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the County Town.  We are confident MICA and their partner Sound Space Vision will deliver the Council’s and TTA’s shared aspiration for this exciting development.  Such projects require thoughtful consideration and investment, in order for our communities to reap the significant cultural, social and economic benefits they can deliver. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with TDBC to deliver a beautiful, bespoke, multi-purpose arts centre that the people of Somerset will be immensely proud of and enjoy.

Stuart Cade, MICA Director, said: “We relish the opportunity to work with Taunton Deane Borough Council and the Taunton Theatre Association to realise their ambitions for this beautiful site by the River Tone. MICA bring expertise in performing arts, in historic building, in public realm, and in leading wider project teams on complex cultural projects, with proven success in delivery – on time and to budget.. As a team, we work across the UK embedding ourselves in our client’s location and context, taking pride in the co-production of their aspirations to create uplifting environments for local communities.”

The capital cost for the project is fixed at £12million and the project is planned to be delivered by autumn 2022.

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

Boost for Nexus 25 employment site

TAUNTON’s planned strategic employment site – Nexus 25 – has gained a major boost within days of the Borough Council’s decision resolving to approve the Local Development Order (LDO).

The site, offering direct access to the M5, is crucial to Taunton Deane Borough Council’s ambitious growth and development plans that go hand-in-hand with its status as the South West’s only Garden Town.

Summerfield Developments – which owns the 61-acre site – has announced that Henry Boot developments has been selected to bring forward the employment site which has the potential to create 3,000 jobs locally.

“This is the best start we could wish for in 2018,” said Cllr Mark Edwards, deputy leader of the council and lead member for business development. “It is good to hear that Henry Boot Developments describes Nexus 25 as ‘pivotal’ and a catalyst for the town, securing its place as one of the region’s major growth centres.

“It is a hugely exciting scheme and underlines our commitment to Taunton Deane as the place to do business with provision of high quality jobs. Taunton is growing and as the best connected town in the South West for business, it is essential we deliver a balanced economy of housing, jobs and leisure together with improved infrastructure to match.”

Nexus 25 will provide a range of flexible premises providing space for research and development, health, education, and digital technology alongside high quality offices, light industrial units and warehouses. Designed as a ‘Green Campus,’ the site will include walkways and landscaping to create an environment in line with Taunton’s Garden Town status.

The LDO was prepared by Peter Brett Associates (PBA) and LHC Design on behalf of the council. The documents set out the planning and design principles and other site-specific requirements which will guide the development of the Nexus 25 site.

The plans for Nexus 25 were unveiled in March this year and this was followed by an informal consultation and a subsequent statutory consultation where residents and other stakeholders were invited to comment on the LDO. The Council took account of all responses received and, after meeting to discuss the plans for Nexus 25, voted to approve plans to adopt the LDO.

The LDO will be implemented once improvements at J25 are confirmed. Money has been provided for this work and the scheme is currently awaiting planning approval from Somerset County Council.
LDOs were introduced by the Government to enable local planning authorities to speed up the implementation of planned developments, while ensuring that all the usual environmental safeguards are applied.

Mary Crew, PBA Associate, said: “The resolution to approve the LDO is a positive step for Taunton and for the planning process as a whole. LDOs are a significant move towards simplifying the planning process, creating a more certain planning environment which is attractive to investors. LDOs, as seen here with the development of the Nexus 25 site, can secure positive growth for an area while retaining all the environmental protections provided by traditional planning permissions.”

The proposals for Nexus 25 have been developed by a team drawn from the public and private sectors. Key partners include the Borough Council, Somerset County Council, the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Highways England, the Environment Agency, Summerfield Developments and Henry Boot Developments.

‘Lost Lines’ report ignites hope for Wellington

GOVERNMENT proposals that could see the reopening of rail routes lost half a century ago are being welcomed by Taunton Deane Borough Council.

The authority has been working with partners, including local MP Rebecca Pow, towards the reopening of Wellington station that shut in 1964 under the Beeching axe.

The council wants to see a Metro-style link opened to connect with Taunton and Exeter and helped to fund a business case for the bid, working with neighbouring councils in Devon, Somerset County Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the MP.

The link would also see a new station opening at Cullompton in Mid Devon as part of the joint project.

Cllr Mark Edwards, deputy leader of the Borough Council, has led the campaign and welcomed the announcement from Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today (Wednesday November 29) that lines closed in the 1960s could be reopened.

Cllr Edwards said: “Today’s report is very welcome – we have genuine support for our proposal to reopen Wellington’s station and reconnect the town to the rail network.

“Extensive work has taken place on possible network timetabling – and that has confirmed that the proposal is definitely feasible.

“We are now carrying out more detailed work on the business case and are hopeful that it will be ready in the spring.

“Wellington is a growing town and the station would provide a real lifeline to residents and businesses.”

Wellington Station first opened in 1843 but fell victim to Dr Beeching, chairman of the British Transport Commission, who recommended mass cuts to the nation’s loss-making railways. More than 2,000 railway stations closed as a result.

 

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.”

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