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SOMERSET: Firepool access plans

SOMERSET: Firepool access plans

CREDIT: Somerset County Council

Steps to regenerate the Firepool site in Taunton town centre have taken a further step forward after plans for a new access road were submitted.

Construction work has begun on the new £11M digital innovation centre at the northern end of the former cattle market site, which Somerset County Council hopes will be fully operational by 2023.

Plans were also recently submitted to convert the former Great Western Railway (GWR) offices next door and demolish the former auction house, in order the raise the entire regeneration site and prevent flooding.

Now plans have been submitted to Somerset West and Taunton Council for a new vehicular access, linking the site to the A3087 Trenchard Way and providing easier access to Taunton railway station.

The new access road will be created opposite the entrance to the recently-completed multi-storey car park on Trenchard Way, creating a new crossroads.

As well as providing a primary access to the Firepool site, reducing the pressure on Canal Road, the scheme will enable buses to collect rail passengers outside the railway station, making onwards journeys much easier.

The new road will include provision for cyclists, following the announcement that the district council would spend £750,000 to deliver a new cycle route from the railway station to Vivary Park and East Reach, as part of its £13.9M allocation from the government’s future high streets fund.

The county council announced in February that it would spend £1.27M on improving transport links around the railway station and the Firepool site, with the funding coming from the district council, the Department for Transport and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The new access will be delivered jointly by the two councils in partnership with Network Rail and GWR (which operates the railway station), with work expected to begin in the spring if approval is granted shortly after Christmas.

Councillor John Woodman, the county council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “This is an important step forward for the future of Taunton and Somerset.

“Encouraging more people to use public transport, along with cycling and walking, by building those essential links, is vital to Somerset’s climate emergency strategy; as well as providing access for motorists, our updated planning proposal makes it much easier for travellers to leave their car at home if they choose to.”

Councillor Mike Rigby, the district council’s portfolio holder for planning policy and transport, added: “We are working with our partners to facilitate the delivery of key projects and infrastructure at our flagship Firepool site, creating a quality scheme that makes the most of its excellent transport links and attracts growth, jobs and investment to Taunton.

“This new junction is an important next step in that process, providing improved accessibility for vehicles and public transport, while linking to a proposed dedicated route for cyclists and pedestrians through Firepool to the town centre – reflecting our garden town status and bringing new vitality to the area.

“A further application that lays out the main Firepool boulevard will be submitted shortly.”

Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter


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