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RETAIL DEVELOPMENT: Up to 150 new Williton jobs

RETAIL DEVELOPMENT: Up to 150 new Williton jobs

The Current J Gliddon And Sons Base, Image: LDRS

Up to 150 new jobs could be coming to a Somerset village after a major new retail development was approved.

J. Gliddon and Sons Ltd. put forward new plans in June 2020 to redevelop the land behind its existing store on the A39 Bank Street in Williton, with a pedestrian access from Fore Street.

The development will include a new supermarket, retail units, food and drink outlets and health services, with 175 new parking spaces being provided.

Somerset West and Taunton Council’s planning committee unanimously backed the scheme on Thursday (September 2) – despite concerns as to whether a new mini-roundabout planned near the site would be effective.

Under the proposals, J. Gliddon and Sons’ existing shop will be demolished to create the access road, with the company expected to occupy a new unit fronting onto Bank Street once the mini-roundabout has been built.

Development

Artist impression of the new development, Image: LDRS

Williton is currently served by a Co-operative Food store and a Spar (both located on Fore Street), as well as the Esso petrol station.

The applicants successfully fought an appeal against West Somerset Council in May 2017, after the local authority argued the supermarket would damage the high street’s retail offer.

Councillor Ian Aldridge – who represents Watchet and Williton – welcomed the scheme when the current council’s planning committee met in Taunton on Thursday afternoon (September 2).

He said: “Williton is a long-established community – it’s the gateway in and out of west Somerset.

“The population of Minehead, excluding Butlin’s, is about 11,000. The population within easy travelling distance of Williton is 13,000 – that’s roughly ten per cent of the district.

“What we need to see in Williton is something which will service the local hinterland, and this will serve that purpose. It would re-establish the economy of Williton quite extensively.”

The existing mini-roundabout in Williton sees the A358 meet the A39, with motorists coming from Taunton either heading west towards Minehead or east towards the Quantock Hills area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and on to Bridgwater.

The new mini-roundabout will lie to the west of the current set-up, but will not connect up to Bridge Street, much of which is one-way.

Despite his enthusiasm for the economic benefits of the scheme, Mr Aldridge warned that the new mini-roundabout needed to be properly designed to prevent congestion and keep pedestrians safe.

He said: “At the moment, that is a straight road coming from Minehead – and every large HGV has to come through Williton, because the only other main A-roads out of west Somerset are the A396 through Dunster and the A39 going over Porlock Hill, both of which have weight limits on them.

“Already, articulated vehicles that go round the existing roundabout have to swing out on the wrong side of the road, because in many cases they have to go to Bridgwater. To have a second mini-roundabout there seems barmy.”

Councillor Roger Habgood shared Mr Aldridge’s concerns but welcomed the investment in the village.

He said: “I shop in Williton – I go to the chip shop, Gliddens and the Co-op, because they’re quite close to me.

“If a caravan, a tractor and an articulated lorry all arrive there at the same moment, there will be a bit of an issue. I always back off there.

“I’m not a highway engineer, but from a practical point of view it needs to be as open as possible.

“It’s brilliant if it will be 150 jobs, but any extra jobs in Williton is great news.”

Councillor Sarah Wakefield added: “If the building nearest the proposed roundabout is in the ownership of the applicant, you could make the roundabout a bit bigger.”

The committee voted unanimously to approve the plans after less than an hour’s debate.

 

Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter


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