The Council is moving ahead with plans to make Taunton town centre more user friendly, improving the area for pedestrians and cyclists in line with its status as the first Garden Town in the South West.
Phase one covering the permanent closure of St James Street between North Street and Lower Middle Street will begin in the New Year.
It will be followed by phase two which will see an 18-month trial closure of Hammet Street and East Street to all vehicles except buses and cyclists.
Taunton Deane Borough Council and Somerset County Council are currently working on the finer details of the proposed phase two changes with the appointed transport and urban design specialists WSP
A further dedicated consultation will be held for East Street, where the local community can put thoughts forward about the proposed designs. If the trial is successful, the permanent changes to both East Street and Hammet Street will follow as quickly as possible.
The public space project will generate opportunities for businesses, event organisers and artists to explore creative uses of the town’s most attractive areas. It forms part of a much wider plan to enhance Taunton’s appeal along with the regeneration of Coal Orchard and Firepool.
Cllr Richard Parrish, Executive member for Planning Policy and Transportation, said: “Taunton becoming a Garden Town gave us a real opportunity to review our town centre and look at how we can create a better environment for residents, shoppers and visitors, which will help attract investment and allow businesses to thrive.
We’ve seen this work well in other areas, and we’re keen that traffic is redirected to more appropriate routes. We want to free up space for new and improved public areas that are attractive and inviting for everyone with fewer vehicles, less pollution and reduced noise.”
Cllr David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “We’re pleased to be working alongside Taunton Deane Borough Council to support their aspirations to improve the town in keeping with its status as the first Garden Town in the South West. This scheme is all about enhancing the visitor experience in Taunton and making it more appealing for pedestrians and cyclists.”
The Traffic Regulation Order and commencement of the statutory consultation period relating to the closure of St James Street will be published on 22 November.
Further information on the TRO process and an opportunity to make representations can be found at:
To accompany this stage of works, a webpage dedicated to the Public Space Improvement Project is now live. This can be found at
This website contains background information on the project, and an FAQ section relating to the proposed works, and the wider context of town centre improvements that TDBC are committed to in the near future.
Taunton Deane Borough Council’s business consultation seeking views on the proposed hotel at Firepool is being run throughout October.
The Council’s Planning Committee resolved in March 2018 to grant outline planning consent for a mixed use development at Firepool, including a new hotel. The separate decision to build the hotel as a council led commercial venture was deferred in order to consult with local businesses.
The Council has now produced a leaflet with information about the project, the reasons for it and the benefits it is expected to bring. It also explains the wider commercial approach the council is taking and how the proposed hotel investment is part of that.
Points raised by businesses from the consultation will help to inform the Council’s approach to the hotel project and other commercial ventures that the Council may develop in the future.
Cllr John Williams, Leader of the Council said: “The proposed hotel is a key part of our plans for the regeneration of Taunton town centre and could be a huge asset, bringing significant money into the local economy and creating jobs at both the construction and operational stages for local people.
However we respect that local businesses want to have their say and are keen to hear their opinions through this consultation. Following the departure of St Modwen as the Council’s development partner at Firepool, we are also taking the opportunity to reflect and listen to different ideas coming forward locally in shaping and developing this important town centre site.”
The business consultation will run from Monday 1st October to Wednesday 31st October. All the details and a link to the consultation can be found on the consultation page of Council’s website https://www.tauntondeane.gov.uk/consultations/
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.