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Notice of adoption of the Firepool Masterplan

Thank you for the comments you made on the Firepool Masterplan during our consultation which ended earlier this year. Comments received have helped shape the final Masterplan.

On 28th March 2023, Somerset West and Taunton Council (now Somerset Council) formally adopted the Firepool Masterplan. The adopted Masterplan can be found at https://www.somerset.gov.uk/planning-buildings-and-land/significant-planning-projects/firepool-taunton/ alongside a Consultation Statement detailing comments received and how they have been taken into account, Adoption Statement, the accompanying environmental report and other supporting evidence. The Masterplan is intended to guide the development of the Firepool site and has been adopted by the Local Planning Authority as a material planning consideration in the preparation of pre-application advice, assessing planning applications and any other development management purposes.

The Masterplan proposes an ambitious mixed-use scheme, comprising new homes and a leisure quarter organised around a high-quality public realm, designed to support revitalisation and regeneration of Taunton town centre.

A copy of the Masterplan, Adoption Statement and the accompanying environmental report are also available for inspection at the following locations, free of charge:

  • County Hall, Taunton, TA1 4DY (8:45am to 5:00pm Monday-Thursday, 8:45am to 4:30pm Friday)
  • Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton, TA1 1HE (08:30am to 5:00pm Monday-Friday)
  • Thank you again for the time you spent reviewing the consultation material and responding with comments.

    Posted on 4th October 2023

    by Somerset Council Planning Policy Team

    Online public presentation and Q&A session for local businesses at 5pm tonight!

    Join us at 5pm today for an online public presentation and Q&A session on the Draft Firepool Masterplan focused specifically at local businesses 📢🗣️👇

    Zoom link - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89481902640.

    For more information and to respond to the consultation go to https://firepool.commonplace.is

    Posted on 12th December 2022

    by Graeme Thompson

    In person drop-in session at Deane House 5pm-9pm this evening!

    An in person drop-in session is being held at Deane House Council Offices this evening (Tuesday 6th December) from 5pm-9pm in support of public consultation on the Draft Firepool Masterplan. Come along to view consultation materials in person, ask questions and have your say!

    For more information and to respond to the consultation go to https://firepool.commonplace.is

    Posted on 6th December 2022

    by Graeme Thompson

    Online public presentation and Q&A session at 7:30pm tonight!

    Join us at 7.30pm today for an online public presentation and Q&A session on the Draft Firepool Masterplan 📢🗣️👇

    https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85000191285

    Posted on 28th November 2022

    by Graeme Thompson

    Firepool Masterplan public consultation launched

    21 November 2022 : Council news, Community, Planning and development

    Members of the public are being asked for their views on a new masterplan to future-proof delivery of the Firepool regeneration site.

    SWT’s Executive approved the Draft Firepool Masterplan for public consultation at their meeting on Wednesday, 16 November, giving residents a chance to have their say on the updated proposals.

    The revised masterplan is for a mixed-use scheme comprising new homes and an ambitious leisure quarter capable of accommodating a multi-purpose venue, hotel, cinema, bowling alley, health hub and nursery focused around a high quality boulevard and amphitheatre fronting the river Tone.

    It also introduces an improved walking and cycling connection along National Cycle Network on the north bank of the river Tone, and sustainability features including a centralised cycle hub containing secure cycle storage, low traffic neighbourhood design and an energy centre for potential heat network delivery.

    The final version of the masterplan will provide the Council with an up-to-date document for use as a material consideration when determining individual planning applications within the site.

    It will also provide greater clarity about what may constitute appropriate development proposals for the site going forward.

    Cllr Mike Rigby, Executive Member for Economic Development, Planning and Transport, said: “There have been several national and local changes since we consulted with the public on early ideas for the new masterplan in November 2019.

    “These together with the ongoing impact of Covid and the cost of living crisis on the national economy, mean that we need to take proactive steps to ensure the development can be delivered and is fit for the future.

    “The updated masterplan takes account of these changed circumstances while reflecting the Council’s corporate priorities to enable and deliver major schemes; value and support culture and the arts; deliver homes that local people can afford; and care for the environment.

    “I hope people will engage with us and play their part in helping to shape our flagship regeneration development.”

    The Firepool site is owned and is being developed by Somerset West and Taunton Council which is also the Local Planning Authority (LPA) and therefore has two separate roles - the Council as developer is producing the draft masterplan, and the Council as the LPA has approved public consultation on the draft masterplan.

    The consultation starts today, Monday, 21 November, and runs for six weeks until 2 January 2023.

    To have your say and get involved:

    • Go to firepool.commonplace.is

    • View hard copies of the Draft Masterplan documents at the Council offices in Deane House, Belvedere Road; Taunton Central Library and Priorswood Library.

    • Attend one of our consultation events (more details on how to join the online sessions available on the consultation hub):

    o Monday 28th November 2022 @ 7:30pm - online public presentation and Q&A session.

    o Tuesday 6th December 2022 @ 5pm - 9pm - in person drop-in session at the Council Offices, Deane House, Belvedere Rd, Taunton, TA 1HE.

    o Thursday 8th December 2022 @ 12noon - 5pm - in person drop-in session at the Council Offices, Deane House, Belvedere Rd, Taunton, TA 1HE

    o Monday 12th December 2022 @ 5pm - online presentation and Q&A session focused for local businesses.

    Participants are encouraged to respond to the consultation online via the consultation hub, but alternatively can respond by email to Strategy@somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk or write to us at Planning Policy and Implementation Team, Somerset West and Taunton Council, Deane House, Belvedere Rd, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 1HE.

    Following the consultation, comments will be reviewed and any necessary amendments made taking account of the views received along with work on outstanding issues.

    A final Masterplan is expected to be presented to Full Council in March 2023 seeking adoption as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.

    Site clearance and preparation for Phase 1 of drainage works opening up the Firepool site for redevelopment is currently underway following the appointment of contractors Montel Civil Engineering.

    The works include removal of existing obstructions above and below ground, and construction of new sewer networks and surface water infrastructure together with groundworks to lift the bulk of the site out of the flood plain ready for future development.

    This work is expected to continue until Spring 2023 and will be followed by construction of the boulevard connecting the railway station through Firepool and along the river Tone to the town centre.

    Posted on 21st November 2022

    by Graeme Thompson

    Drainage works to begin at Firepool

    02 November 2022 : Council news, Planning and development

    Drainage work opening up Somerset West and Taunton’s flagship Firepool site for redevelopment is set to begin following the appointment of contractors Montel Civil Engineering.

    Montel are due to commence site clearance and preparation on Monday (7 November) ready for Phase 1 of the drainage work.

    The enabling works will include removal of existing obstructions above and below ground, and construction of new sewer networks and surface water infrastructure together with groundworks to lift the bulk of the site out of the flood plain protecting future development.

    SWT’s planning committee approved an application for the vital infrastructure work earlier this year, along with an initial programme of development which will include conversion and extension of the old GWR goods office to a restaurant; and construction of a four-storey office building with commercial space, rentable office spaces and a café or shop.

    Cllr Mike Rigby, Executive Member for Economic Development, Planning and Transport, said: “I am delighted to see detailed arrangements in place by our contractor for the start of this complex work.

    “The issue of flood risk and management was one of the biggest challenges for us to address when preparing Firepool for redevelopment.

    “Lifting the site above the flood plain is key to enabling our ambitious development proposals at this accessible and sustainable brownfield location to be brought forward.”

    Andy McAdam of Montel Civil Engineering said: “We are delighted to be involved in this substantial project and are working closely with SWT to ensure that disruption and inconvenience is kept to a minimum for both residents and local businesses during the course of our work.

    “Firepool is a central site in Taunton and maintaining open and positive engagement with the local community plays an essential part in delivering a successful project.

    “We will shortly have a website giving an overview of our project works, including progress photos, and phasing diagrams.

    “Progress reports and any traffic management changes will also be included in our project newsletter which we will distribute regularly during the progress of this key project.”

    Throughout the contract Montel Civil Engineering will work with and support local community groups to provide assistance to regeneration projects and identify environmental enhancement projects which support local ecology and biodiversity.

    They will also be engaging with local schools and colleges to inform children about health and safety around construction site; and they will be promoting apprenticeships and work experience in civil engineering.

    A new Masterplan for the wider Firepool site is currently being prepared for planning approval reflecting Somerset West and Taunton’s Garden Town Vision and corporate priorities.

    The revised masterplan details a mixed-use scheme comprising new homes and an ambitious leisure quarter capable of accommodating a multi-purpose venue, hotel, cinema, bowling alley, health hub and nursery focused around a high quality boulevard and amphitheatre fronting the river Tone.

    It will be considered by the Executive Committee on 16 November, with an officer recommendation to approve for public consultation.

    Posted on 17th November 2022

    by Somerset West and Taunton Council

    Future-proofing Firepool

    26 October 2022 : Council news, Planning and development

    Somerset West and Taunton has made significant progress at Firepool this year after its planning committee approved applications for vital infrastructure work along with an initial programme of development.

    Work to raise ground levels and divert drainage infrastructure within the site is set to begin in November following the appointment of contractors Montel Civil Engineering.

    It will include removal of existing obstructions above and below ground, and construction of new sewer networks and surface water infrastructure together with groundworks to lift the bulk of the site out of the flood plain preparing for future development.

    The Council has also worked to support and enable Somerset County Council to implement its ambitious Digital Innovation Centre proposals with building progressing on site to provide high-quality office, workshop, collaboration, and meeting space as well as specialist collaboration support services targeted at digital economy businesses.

    A new masterplan is now being prepared to future-proof delivery of the Firepool regeneration site reflecting Somerset West and Taunton Council’s Garden Town Vision and corporate priorities.

    The revised masterplan details a mixed-use scheme comprising new homes and an ambitious leisure quarter capable of accommodating a multi-purpose venue, hotel, cinema, bowling alley, health hub and nursery focused around a high quality boulevard and amphitheatre fronting the river Tone.

    It also introduces an improved walking and cycling connection along National Cycle Network on the north bank of the river Tone, and sustainability features including a centralised cycle hub containing secure cycle storage, low traffic neighbourhood design and an energy centre for potential heat network delivery.

    The Firepool site is owned and is being developed by Somerset West and Taunton Council which is also the Local Planning Authority (LPA) and therefore has two separate roles - the Council as developer is producing the draft masterplan, and the Council as the LPA will be consulting on the draft masterplan.

    Cllr Mike Rigby, Executive Member for Economic Development, Planning and Transport, said: “There have been significant challenges in bringing forward commercially viable and policy compliant development on this site, but this Council recognises the immense economic, social and environmental benefits of this development to the town and we’re taking proactive steps to bring this regeneration to fruition and get delivery moving here.”

    The Council previously consulted with the public on a draft masterplan in November 2019. However, since then there have been national and local policy changes together with the impact of Covid and the cost of living crisis which justify an alternative development solution for the site.

    The new masterplan will provide the Council with an up-to-date, holistic document for use as a material consideration in the determination of subsequent individual planning applications within the site.

    It will also provide greater certainty in what may constitute appropriate development proposals for the site going forward.

    The draft masterplan for Firepool is due to be considered by Corporate Scrutiny on 2 November and Executive Committee on 16 November, with an officer recommendation to approve for public consultation. This will give residents a chance to have their say on the updated proposals.

    A final masterplan is currently expected to be presented to Full Council for adoption in March 2023.

    Posted on 17th November 2022

    by Somerset West and Taunton Council