Update October 2021
Somerset West and Taunton Council has begun 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. The previous consultation results are online here:
The revised masterplan proposes 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.
The proposed Local Development Order which was previously anticipated to be the method of securing planning permission, has been delayed due to the county wide Phosphates issue.
In the intervening period, 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.
The Digital Innovation Centre will start on site in Q3 2021 see Somerset County Council website for more details.
The delay in bringing forward planning applications has allowed SWT to use the site to accommodate the new vaccination centre relocating from Taunton Racecourse to Firepool in early October as part of the Somerset COVID vaccination programme. The vaccination centre will be on site until March ’22, after which construction activity on the main site will begin.
A series of consultation stages has begun 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. These applications are hosted on the Avison Young website along with the ability to download the material and provide comments.
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.
Subject to planning approval, work should commence on Block 3 and the infrastructure elements in the Spring of 2022.