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Unlocking Firepool

18 March 2022 : Council news, Planning and development

The green light has been given to a programme of work opening up Somerset West and Taunton Council’s flagship redevelopment site at Firepool.

The planning committee last night approved an application to demolish the Auction House building and carry out associated infrastructure work which will lift the whole site out of the flood plain as required for development.

It also approved a separate application for a four-storey office building at the northern gateway to the Firepool site.

The new office building will have commercial space on the ground floor, with the upper floor divided into small rentable office spaces, with kitchenettes, and a café or shop at ground floor level.

The old GWR goods office which is currently being used a construction office for the Digital Innovation Centre being delivered in partnership with Somerset County Council, has also received approval for conversion and extension to a restaurant.

The temporary cycle and pedestrian route that has been in place from the redeveloped railway station through Firepool will be re-routed during the works which include preparation of the northern section of the proposed boulevard.

Cllr Mike Rigby, Executive Member for Planning and Transport, said: “This Council’s objective is to deliver Firepool in line with our priorities identified in the Corporate Strategy.

“The site has many constraints which have taken time and careful consultation to address before the Council in its role as developer could unlock the site for development.

“Not only do these permissions enable the rest of the site to be brought forward for regeneration they also mark the start of work on the public realm and boulevard connecting the Train Station through Firepool and along the river Tone to the town centre keeping Taunton vibrant and successful in the years ahead.

“We said we’d get this long-delayed project off the ground and we have.”

This part of the project has been funded by the High Street Fund and is at no cost to Council Taxpayers. Work is expected to commence as soon as possible although the Auction House will be retained for a short period for the contractor to use as a site office.

A new Masterplan for the wider Firepool site is being prepared for planning approval.

If approved the Masterplan will become a material consideration in determination of future planning applications for the rest of Firepool which will be a mix of new homes, an amphitheatre, cinema, hotel, and leisure facilities in a high-quality environment.