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19 to 26 North Street

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Why Retirement Apartments?

Thank you to all have responded to consultation materials over the last couple of weeks. This update is not a final summary and, if you haven’t already, there is still plenty of time to have your say. However, much of the feedback received to date has centred around two key issues:

  • Why retirement apartments, why not just apartments?
  • The desire to see opportunities for small independent businesses on the ground floor and potentially an indoor market.
  • Issues relating to car parking have also been raised, although views varied as to whether parking provision should be plentiful or limited.

    Comments on other sites, including press and social media, have mirrored feedback received on the consultation site and the project team have been discussing ways in which views expressed can be taken into account.

    In this news update, we want to report back on the first of these issues. Why retirement apartments and not just apartments?

    Retirement apartment vs apartments

    Crossmark, as Development Managers, are happy to consider all potential uses for the site and initial studies looked at a wide range of options. However, any option taken forward needs to be deliverable.

    This means Crossmark needs to balance a number of factors including planning policy, the likelihood that appropriate occupiers can be found for the identified use, and the value of the final development on the open market. Without a financially viable solution, commercial investment to build the development would not be available and, unless other funding approaches could be found (for example, Government backing), the project would not be deliverable.

    Projected population growth in Taunton shows a significant increase in the number of people of retirement age. In addition, in terms of financial viability, retirement apartments sell for more than apartments that are not age restricted and the additional value can be the difference between a project that is deliverable and one that is not. However, a more immediate consideration relates to planning policy around parking numbers.

    Ben Read, Black Box Planning said “In planning terms, promoting sustainable travel is a key objective and encouraging significantly less parking is generally acceptable in accessible locations like town centres and for age-restricted apartment schemes. Given the town centre location, and the technical constraints on site, we are looking carefully at the advantages of reduced parking provision and subject to these being acceptable to the Planning Authority and Somerset Highways it may be possible to move away from an age-restricted scheme”

    The project and design team are currently working through the range of considerations associated with an unrestricted use apartment scheme and hope to be in a position to take this option forward in line with feedback received.

    Mark Lewis, Crossmark, commented “We don’t know that this will be possible, as we have yet to discuss all the issues involved with the relevant authorities, but we are beginning the process. We appreciate that there are many factors that will need to be balanced, and that reducing parking will be welcomed by some and strongly opposed by others. However, we appreciate feedback received to date and look forward to continuing the dialogue”

    Our next news update will focus on some of the considerations associated with maintaining flexibility for small independent businesses and market style uses on the ground floor.

    Posted on 12th June 2020

    by Alison Bancroft