Businesses to have their say on hotel proposals

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/

Pay on exit going live this autumn

Pay on ExitThe new pay on exit parking system is due to go live in seven Taunton car parks this autumn.

The council is working with contractors to complete the installation of equipment at the Orchard, High Street, Tangier, Canon Street, Wood Street, Castle Street and Enfield car parks.

The complex work which has included ground works, installation of barriers, machines and cabling, is due to finish by end of this month. A period of testing and training will then take place with the aim of going live in early November.  This means customers will be able to take advantage of the new arrangements in the busy Christmas period.

The Council has already installed Variable Message Signing (VMS) at key locations such as Priorswood Road, Cross Keys, Toneway, East Reach, Silk Mills and Wellington Road.

The VMS systems will help drivers to find car parks and know how many spaces are available and the type of parking – short stay, long stay and commuter. It will also avoid them having to drive around to find a suitable space and should ease queuing and reduce congestion.

Cllr Richard Parrish, Executive member for transport and parking, said: “This £1.2million scheme of significant improvements to car parks and signage should make a real difference to drivers in Taunton. VMS will really improve the flow of traffic and help drivers find the space they need quickly and efficiently, while pay on exit will mean people do not have to rush back to their cars while shopping, dining or on business in the town. This is a great example of the Council working to make parking easier for residents and visitors while improving the traffic flow and in turn reducing air pollution. I’m looking forward to seeing the improvements in place.”

A new charging regime to help with clearer pricing and designation of TDBC car parks will also come into effect with the pay on exit scheme. Changes to the designations of the car parks will give users a clear understanding of where parking is available and for how long you can stay there. There are small increases for some car parks. Other car parks will remain static in their charging for short stays, while for longer stays in the majority of car parks, it will be cheaper for most people.

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

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