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SOMERSET: Shepton Mallet regeneration

SOMERSET: Shepton Mallet regeneration

CREDIT: LUC

Parts of Shepton Mallet town centre could be pedestrianised with new cycling links and improved green spaces as part of a wider regeneration programme.

Shepton Mallet was one of two Somerset towns which were singled out for future regeneration projects in a joint coronavirus recovery plan published by the five Somerset councils in early-January (the other being Watchet).

Mendip District Council has launched an initial consultation for Shepton Mallet, asking residents to give their priorities for how the town should be improved.

Their responses will be turned into a masterplan, allowing the council to bid for funding from central government.

Shepton Mallet and Watchet were both identified within the coronavirus recovery plan as part of a future “multi-centre town deal”, which could also include extra support for regeneration projects in Chard and Wincanton.

A spokesman stated in late-January: “We are planning to promote integrated regeneration in a number of towns, including Chard, Shepton Mallet, Watchet and Wincanton, which can potentially be developed into town deals.

“This will build on existing initiatives, including a new masterplan for Shepton Mallet.

“These regeneration schemes will help to create jobs, opportunities and greater inclusion in these towns, and to their rural hinterlands.”

The district council has appointed consultants LUC to develop the masterplan, with the company identifying a range of initial issues following discussions with the town council.

A number of initial proposals have already been identified, including:

  • Pedestrianising Great Ostry, Market Place and the southern part of High Street to provide an easier link between the town centre and the lido
  • Improving the appearance of High Street, Market Place, St Peter & St Paul’s churchyard through planting and artworks
  • Creating more multi-use path and active travel routes to encourage more walking and cycling – including connections to the Strawberry Line and the East Mendip Way, and improvements to Collett Park and the Millennium Way
  • Improving the River Sheppey corridor, including the creation of a pocket park near Lower Lane
  • Changing the Townsend retail area, possibly reducing the number of car parking spaces in favour of creating new green spaces
  • Redeveloping HMP Shepton Mallet, making the best use of the historic buildings with better pedestrian links to St Paul’s Street

Councillor Garfield Kennedy, portfolio holder for planning and development management, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to be involved in shaping the future for Shepton Mallet town centre.

“I warmly encourage local residents to have their say and feedback on the opportunities in identified so far, and to contribute their ideas.”

The masterplan will form the basis of a future bid to the government’s levelling up fund, where up to £20M could be secured.

Bids to this fund are done on the basis of parliamentary constituencies rather than local authority boundaries, with a focus on three themes:

  • Town centre and high street regeneration
  • Small transport projects which will make a “genuine difference”
  • Maintaining and expanding cultural and heritage assets

The council revealed in early-September that it would be putting in two bids to the levelling up fund, on top of the £23.6M it had already secured for the Glastonbury town deal from the government’s towns fund.

One bid will be in conjunction with South Somerset District Council (covering the Somerton and Frome constituency) and could include money for the ‘western warehouse’ arts venue planned within the Saxonvale regeneration site in Frome.

The other will be a joint bid with Sedgemoor District Council, covering the Wells constituency – with Shepton Mallet potentially sharing the £20M allocation alongside other projects in Highbridge.

Councillor Liz Leyshon, portfolio holder for corporate services and projects, told the council’s cabinet in early-September: “If you had those three capital programmes up, they come to more than three years of revenue funding for the Mendip area.

“They are really significant for a council this size, and there are within them some fantastic opportunities that help us become fairer and greener, and which will give us opportunities to protect and enhance our towns and rural communities.”

To take part in the initial consultation on the Shepton Mallet masterplan, visit www.mendip.gov.uk/sci before November 1.


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