TAUNTON'S historic Bath Place has been judged a runner up in the Great British High Street Awards.

It came behind York's Bishy Road, which was the overall winner in the whole competition, in the local centre category.

The result was based on judges visiting the various shortlisted streets and a public on-line vote.

As a runner-up in the Great British High Street Awards 2015, Taunton will now receive a share of a prize pot worth £80,000.

Nancy Murgatroyd, owner of Harlequin Gallery and bid leader, said: “While we’re disappointed not to have won the Great British High Street Awards reaching the final is still a fantastic achievement.

“We’ve transformed our high street with social media, yarn bombing and business innovation – we’ve put Bath Place back on the map.

“Being a finalist in this competition has encouraged such a community spirit and business innovation and we’ll make sure that we keep this up.

"We’re going to use our experience as finalists to do even more. We’ll be back next year, so watch this space.”

Bath Place was named a Runner up in the Local Centre category because of their incredible improvement work.

Bath Place had been struggling with declining footfall and increasing vacancy rates.

But with some elbow grease and more than a touch of creativity, Bath Place has become a hub for the community and business is booming.

The team at Bath Place has sought to improve footfall by working in partnership with other towns and have devised a range of ‘quirky’ events from duck counting to yarn bombing to bring customers back into the town centre.

High Streets Minister Marcus Jones said: “The excitement this competition has generated with a huge level of interest from the public vote is proof that high streets are the life and soul of towns, villages and cities across the country.

“Over the last year investment in property is up 30%, town centre vacancy rates have fallen to under 10% and retail sales have increased for the longest period on record – long may it continue.

“Bath Place, Taunton deserves the very highest praise for being a finalist in this year’s Great British High Street Awards.

“Their innovative ideas and hard work on the ground really made them stand out and we’ll be sharing their excellent example to help others learn from their success.”

The Great British High Street Awards 2015 is run by the Department for Communities and Local Government and sponsored by Boots, Costa, Post Office, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and the British Council of Shopping Centres.

Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow said: "Bath Place has done an absolutely fantastic job over many months and I am delighted that all their hard work has been recognised at the highest level.

"Innovative initiatives and quirky events, such as the colourful and charming ‘yarn bombing’, have driven down the number vacant units and significantly increased footfall.

"I would like to congratulate and praise both the Bath Place Traders Association and all those involved with rejuvenating this area, it is a magnificent achievement to come runners up in this category beating over 230 other entrants. Great place for Christmas Shopping!"