THINK of Paris and the Eiffel Tower comes to mind, New York conjures up images of the Statue of Liberty, while Rio de Janeiro’s got Christ the Redeemer - so what about Taunton?

Well, discussions are underway about constructing a unique, iconic piece of artwork costing some £1 million that will be visible from the railway line and the M5.

Talks have already been held about siting it on top of Creechbarrow Hill, off The Toneway, inside the UK Hydrographic Office campus.

Senior managers there support the idea and permission is being sought from the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury, with negotiations over security issues and the potential cost of the lease.

The proposal comes from ArtsTaunton, which plans to throw an international competition to attract high quality design suggestions.

ArtsTaunton’s Kit Chapman said: “We want something pretty modern, something in the digital age that represents the work of the UKHO and expresses what Taunton is all about.

“It will have height so that is is visible to train passengers and from the motorway.

“It will be a major icon for Taunton and something that will identify Taunton immediately and give us an association with the arts.”

If ministerial approval is given, ArtsTaunton would then ask artists from all over the world to submit expressions of interest, with a shortlist of five given £5,000 to produce a plan for what they would propose to do.

A public exhibition would then be held in Taunton and one of the five designs would be selected.

“It will have cost £40,000 by that stage and then the enormous task of raising the money would begin,” said Mr Chapman. “We could easily be talking about seven figures.”

Meanwhile, ArtsTaunton held a meeting on Tuesday to inform people of £20 million proposals to expand the Brewhouse Theatre on its current riverside site.

The wish list includes improved facilities that would help attract top performers and establish a cultural hub in Coal Orchard, where there is outline permission for a development of homes, shops and work space.

Members backed plans to remove dozens of parking spaces, although concerns were expressed that it could make it difficult for people who are elderly or have a disability to get to the theatre.

There were also concerns about the proposed wharf building, with fears that it could mask the Brewhouse and detract from Taunton Deane Borough Council’s stated aim of making the Coal Orchard a destination site.

Mr Chapman added: "ArtsTaunton is a charitable institution charged with bringing art for the public benefit to Taunton.

"Taunton Deane Borough Council are not involved in our on-going negotiations with UKHO and no taxpayers money will go towards this project, should it come to fruition.

"The funding for this project, which is intended to help with the aspirational and cultural regeneration of Taunton, will be raised through a variety of philanthropic sources from funds that have already been ring-fenced for this type of initiative.

"In essence we will look to draw some of that money into Taunton.

"We are exploring an idea with UKHO to commission an artwork that will celebrate the amazing work UKHO have been doing for over 200 years and put Taunton on the map by giving us a unique landmark - Creechbarrow Hill is the perfect place.

"The commissioned work will attract media and public attention and grow the profile of UKHO and Taunton."