WHAT’S the future for Taunton town centre?

I am now in my fourteenth year as a small independent business in Taunton.

I am concerned about the new plans for building yet more shops and offices at Coal Orchard, while so many town-centre sites stand empty. 

There has been a change in recent years in what is on offer in town and city centres, mainly due to the popularity of online shopping. 

Even some town-based chain stores suffer as there is often a larger, better stocked version of the same store in the nearest city. 

I believe that it is small independent businesses that give towns colour and identity, and a particular reason for people to visit.

A recent trip to Frome was inspirational: a smaller town, but packed with independent businesses. There is a regular ‘Independents Day’ (once a month) that attracts thousands of people to the town centre. The businesses represented range from estate agents, local breweries, hand-made clothing and furniture to the more usual antique and booksellers. 

I had a chat to one of the town councillors who told me commercial premises vacancy rates are at 4 per cent, which is a lot less than the national average, encouraged by favourable business rate terms for small independents. 

I believe that the economic development of Taunton relies on attracting more people into the town on a regular basis, and independent businesses are crucial in this. 

The weekly farmer’s market is always busy, and a reason for people to visit the town. 

Some of the empty town centre buildings are large and not viable for small businesses. It would seem to make sense to develop/offer favourable terms to local commercial landlords and developers to convert them into small commercial units and flats for a mix of business and residential which seems to work so well in many other places.


There are underused areas already available for redevelopment: surely if Taunton Deane believes building new shop units is a good idea for Taunton, why not use what is already available? 

I am interested to know what the thinking is behind this proposed new development: does the council have a waiting list of businesses set to move in? 

Good, cohesive planning now by Taunton Deane, local property developers and commercial landlords will help to build a vibrant and thriving County Town with an identifiable centre.

Bath Place