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Consultation to begin on Firepool plans

24 September 2021 : Council news, Planning and development

Somerset West and Taunton Council will begin a programme of consultation on detailed plans for the redevelopment of its flagship site at Firepool this autumn.

The Council previously consulted with the public in November 2019 on the draft master plan which will see individual blocks delivered incrementally and includes a landmark boulevard with water gardens, an amphitheatre and dedicated cycle and pedestrian access in a high-quality environment.

Since then a temporary cycle and pedestrian route has been opened from the redeveloped railway station through Firepool, and the old GWR goods office has been refurbished to become a construction office for the Digital Innovation Centre being delivered in partnership with Somerset County Council on Block 6.

Work is also taking place to accommodate the new vaccination centre relocating from Taunton Racecourse to Firepool in early October as part of the Somerset COVID vaccination programme.

Now a series of consultation stages will begin on detailed planning applications for individual blocks as the Council starts to deliver Firepool as part of the wider 2040 Garden Town Vision

The consultation will include, in time, the overall masterplan for the site so it can be adopted in order to provide an up to date context as a material consideration in the determination of future planning applications.

Each application is subject to Local Planning Authority scrutiny and process, with the development team within the Council needing to demonstrate how the proposals respond to local and national planning policy in the delivery of sustainable development.

The first individual application will be for Block 3 and associated infrastructure. These applications lift the whole site out of the flood plain ready for the wider masterplan.

The Block 3 application also seeks to create the northern part of the boulevard as it connects the railway station to Canal Road; a signature restaurant in the former goods office; and a Phase 2 office connected to the Digital Innovation Centre providing small offices to help businesses in post-Covid recovery.

Cllr Mike Rigby, Executive Member for Planning, said: “Firepool is an important site in the Council’s regeneration plans and we are making it a priority in line with our corporate strategy objectives to facilitate development and boost the economy.

“There will be a series of planning applications coming forward as we press ahead with our plans to deliver a quality and improved scheme that not only attracts growth and investment but creates an enjoyable space that reflects our Garden Town status.

“It is important to us that the public understand our plans and have a chance to comment on them. This can of course be done during the statutory planning application process but SWT wants to ask for early feedback in the first of a few consultations to support this process.”

The project team will present the proposals at a webinar between 7 and 8pm on Thursday 30 September. You can join the consultation event at this address which will be live on the day - avisonyoung.co.uk/planningconsultation

The online content will also be available to view following the event using the same link with feedback forms for you to share your views.