A guide to Taunton’s regeneration
By AdFeatures | Thursday, June 07, 2012, 14:13
Taunton has always had a reputation for being a beautiful and pleasant market town, nestled between the picturesque Quantocks and the Blackdown Hills. Yet the area has suffered a period of stifled growth and problems with traffic congestion that somewhat limited the appeal of Taunton to potential businesses and residents.
This has all changed with the announcement that Project Taunton, a program of community-led development occurring over a number of years, had been awarded funding and had found developers willing to go into partnership.
With a great deal of investment going into Taunton, large changes are expected over the next decade, which will reflect the significant progress made since the project’s inception a number of years ago. Playing on its strong transport links to cities in the surrounding area and nationwide, Taunton hopes to provide a wide range of employment opportunities as well as a place that is exciting, safe and interesting to live. It’s prospects such as these that lead to Taunton’s inclusion as a top 10 up and coming city undergoing regeneration by Everest Home Improvements.
Regeneration of the town centre
Project Taunton presents an incredibly ambitious vision for the future of Taunton, though one that is far along its path to completion. The regeneration has focussed not just on one part of the town but a number, principally the Firepool and Tangier areas, the Cultural Quarter and the Town Centre with its focus on retail.
Within these areas the project aims to create at least 7,000 jobs, 80,000 m² of employment space and 50,000 m² of retail space. This is in addition to the 2,000 new homes in the town centre which are scheduled for creation and the 12,000 properties across Taunton as a whole.
Rob Skelston, development director for St Modwen South West/South Wales, who undertook much of the development, told IntoSomerset:
“Firepool is a fantastic opportunity to create a modern commercial centre that will attract new businesses into the area and benefit the town as whole. We already have a proven track record in the South West working on similar brownfield regeneration projects and creating sustainable urban developments.”
The project utilised much of the land that had remained vacant for long periods of time. In the Firepool area, 15 hectares of unused land by the railway station is to be developed into riverside apartments and office space in an attempt to create an economic focal point for the town.
In other areas, large changes are also expected. Somerset County Cricket Club has completed its own rejuvenation program, and a wide range of buildings have been installed in the Cultural Quarter.
Much has been made of Taunton’s traffic issues in the past, and local authorities have long seen it as an obstacle to economic growth. In March 2011 a new road bridge was put in place spanning 36m across the River Tone, ‘as part of a scheme to relieve town centre congestion.’
In September 2011, Taunton’s Third Way road and bridge was constructed at a cost of approximately £7.5 million. However, this is only the first step in traffic-easing measures, and a second link road connecting Staplegrove Road with Priory Avenue is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.
Taunton has gone from strength to strength in recent years as the hard work and financial investments have begun to shape the future of the area. As the community develops the town and the surrounding area into a region to be exceptionally proud of, it is hard to argue with Taunton’s title as one of the most rapidly emerging towns within Great Britain.