Public Space Consultation

Plans to make St James Street more pedestrian friendly in the New Year have been paused to allow time for further consultation

The Council had planned to implement the closure to traffic between North Street and Lower Middle Street in January following publication of the Traffic Regulation Order and statutory consultation

Although the TRO consultation generated 31 letters of support and only 19 against, local traders also organised a petition against the proposals which received just over 300

The Council has listened to their concerns and will contact all interested stakeholders with a view to setting up a working group to move the proposal forward early in the New

Cllr Richard Parrish, Executive member for Planning Policy and Transportation, said:

“The Council is committed to making 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. We aim to create a better environment for residents, shoppers and visitors, which will help attract investment and also allow businesses to thrive. With this in mind, despite having received a great deal of support for the plan, we feel it is important to listen to the concerns of those that have signed the petition. We all share a common desire to act in the best interests of Taunton so need to work together on

The public space improvement project was set to be completed in two phases with the closure of a section of St James Street followed by an 18-month trial closure of Hammet Street and East Street to all vehicles except buses and cyclists. The Council will need to re-consult on revised schemes for Hammett St and East St so decided it makes sense to reconsider St James St in this further

Taunton Deane Borough Council and Somerset County Council will continue working on the details of the proposed changes with the appointed transport and urban design specialists WSP.

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.

High tech parking signs unveiled

THE first Variable Message Signing (VMS) boards are being unveiled in Taunton as work on changing the parking regime in key town centre car parks moves forward.

The signs are being unveiled by Taunton Deane Borough Council, working in partnership with Somerset County Council and contractors SWARCO and WSP.

The council is introducing pay on exit and VMS in seven central car parks as it invests £1.2m to make it easier for people to find vacant parking slots – and to make a payment when they leave, rather than when they arrive. VMS will also be linked to Taunton’s two park & ride sites.

Pay on exit will be introduced in the following car parks: Orchard, High Street, Tangier, Canon Street, Wood Street, Castle Street and Enfield. The changes, being introduced car park by car park to minimise disruption, are planned to be completed in August.

Cllr John Williams, Leader of the council, said: “We committed £1.2m to implementing this initiative to make life a little easier for the motorist and to underline our commitment to Taunton Deane’s economy.

“The new electronic signs will help people find where space is available in some of our busiest car parks while pay on exit means they pay for the time they have parked, rather than pay for time they think they might need.

“This has long been an aspiration for the council and I am delighted to see it come to fruition.”

Cllr Roger Habgood, Executive member for planning policy and transportation, added: “Taunton is growing and, as a Garden Town, we don’t want to see people having to drive around, wasting fuel, time and adding to pollution, in the search for a parking spot.”

Cllr Mark Edwards, Executive member for business, said: “Our traders have been supportive of this new system as it will make life easier for visitors, shoppers and those who do business in Taunton. This will remove the stress of having to return to the car in their allocated time, and allow shoppers to enjoy their experience in Taunton.

“I am grateful for the support we have received from our local businesses and from the partners we have worked with throughout.”

Cllr John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “This project has been an excellent example of collaborative working between two authorities and I’m pleased to see it going live. VMS signs are a welcome addition to the town and should help prevent wasted journeys by directly guiding drivers to available parking spaces.”

The first sign was unveiled in Priorswood Road, Taunton, on the inbound approach, and is one of nine to be provided in key locations, signposting drivers to the seven pay-on-exit car parks and the two park and ride sites.

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

Green light for Coal Orchard plans

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.

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