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19 to 26 North Street

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Contingency plans continuing in case Debenhams closes

With recent news that Debenhams is now up for sale, the future of local shops and department stores continues to be uncertain and contingency plans are continuing in case Debenhams close their Taunton store.

Mark Lewis, Crossmark said, ‘Our ongoing hope is that Debenhams will be able to resolve their ongoing difficulties, possibly under new ownership, as the best outcome for all concerned is for Debenhams to continue to trade successfully in Taunton. However, we are also very aware of the damage that will be caused if they leave without contingency plans in place. A large empty store in this location would not only affect the owner of the building, but also exacerbate the challenges being faced by other retailers in the town centre. We are doing our best to ensure that this does not happen, and we are now moving to the second stage of our public consultation process.”

Stage One Consultation Feedback

During Stage One consultation, one of the main themes that emerged was a desire to see unrestricted age apartments (rather than apartments for over 55s).

Following this feedback, the Project Team have been looking at ways of changing the apartments to unrestricted age use, and discussions are ongoing to see if this will be possible. The key issue is parking, as higher parking numbers are generally required for non-age restricted schemes. However, as Councils across the country declare a Climate Emergency approaches to parking provision are changing, particularly in sustainable locations such as this, and new policies are emerging nationally, including policies for less on-site car parking in sustainable locations.

Given the town centre location, with strong transport links and all day to day facilities and services within walking distance, there is a strong argument for unrestricted age apartments with low parking numbers. This reduction in parking spaces would be supported by a range of other measures, including an accredited, publicly accessible Car Club, with charging points for hybrid/fully electric vehicles. Significant amounts of cycle parking will be provided, with approximately 200 cycle storage spaces. A bike pool and e-bike charging facilities are also being considered.

The hope that the ground floor could become a space for small independents and market style uses was also expressed by a number of respondents and, while this will depend on there being suitable occupier(s), the application will be adopting a flexible approach that would allow for this to be one of the possibilities.

Stage Two Consultation now underway

Work has been continuing with a series of technical studies and investigations, and the Project Team have been focussing on a number of key priorities, including:

  • Design evolution, looking at ways to recognise important heritage and townscape constraints, while maximising the opportunities offered.
  • Identifying a materials palette that complements local character
  • Improving connections with the River and North Street
  • Improving external space along the river and increasing biodiversity
  • Developing a range of measures to support reduced car parking at this highly accessible and sustainable location.
  • Further information about the design development and consultation process is available on this website and there is the opportunity to sign up to receive news updates as the project progresses (at the top right of the News page).

    In addition, members of the Project Team will be presenting proposals via a public webinar on Tuesday 18 August, 6pm to 8pm, which will give members of the public the opportunity to ask questions directly. Click here to register .

    Posted on 6th August 2020

    by Alison Bancroft