PROPOSALS for a multi-million prime site development in Taunton will not be supported by planners until December at the earliest - and perhaps even later.

The plans for 200 homes, a food store, cinema, restaurants and pubs, offices or hotels and a gym or leisure facilities at Firepool have been mired in delays.

Officers at Taunton Deane Borough Council have now come up with a list of reasons why they currently feel unable to back the latest planning application.

They include:

  • a proposed boulevard does not accommodate cyclists, nor link to the recently opened NIDR inner relief road or Taunton Station;
  • updated traffic modelling as requested by Highway Authority has not been provided;
  • contradictions within the masterplan framework;
  • the design of the central square is poor;
  • a conflict between the riverside treatment and the requirements of the Environment Agency;
  • no commitments are included to minimise the impact on the existing town centre shopping area;
  • a 'bus rapid transit' has not been resolved; *no extra parking to mitigate loss of Priory Bridge Road car park.

Firepool has become derelict after the livestock market relocated to North Petherton and a previous outline planning application was rejected a year ago as being similar to "a large commercial car park".

READ MORE: The many visions for Firepool

Ahead of the current application submitted this summer, Peter Davies, from the council's development partner St Modwen said he hoped to win permission in June or July this year, with working starting next year and the project completed in early 2020.

Opposition councillor Habib Farbahi (LibDem) said that looks highly unlikely, who added: "Let us not forget what we had some 10 years ago - a vibrant county town with the cattle market in the heart of it including number of unique outlets, attracting visitors from all over the county in contrast to what we have today, a derelict site."

Mr Farbahi added: "I am afraid this Tory administration is out of touch with reality.

"I think almost 10 years sitting on our best site in the borough is far too long.

"And a further unspecified delay demonstrates incompetence beyond comprehension; could this mean another 10 years waiting?

"The fact is that St Modwen is trying to maximise its profit at the expense of the taxpayers and the Tories are either asleep on the job or do not care."

If outline planning permission is granted, St Modwen would then need to draw up full plans and return to the council for final approval before securing tenants for the site and agreeing a 'planning gain' payment and compulsory purchase orders.

READ MORE: The latest plans for Firepool revealed

A Deane House spokeswoman said: "Taunton Deane Borough Council, as the local planning authority, has identified a number of issues, principally regarding transport and infrastructure, that need to be addressed and has made St Modwen aware. These issues can be resolved - and are being resolved.

"As said previously, it is important that the plans for this strategic site meet all our requirements in line with wider proposals which put the River Tone at the heart of Taunton providing links to the town centre and railway station.

"This is the opportunity to get things right as everyone wants to see high quality development on this important site."